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In case you are looking for an additional resource to add to your research toolbox, you may want to check out the Journal of Sport Science and Medicine.

This journal gives you free access to full text articles in relation to sports, science, injuries and more.

Any opportunity that gets you closer to research and perfecting your craft is a worthwhile investment – this resource simply requires your time to delve into the research.

Enjoy!

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There was a recent study in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that discussed the effect of post-exercise massage on blow flow and lactic acid removal. You can see the abstract here. There is additional coverage here.

Here was one of the key premises of the study:

More to the point, “most people think that one of the main benefits of massage is that it removes lactic acid,” he says, whether such dispersal is important or not. “We wanted to see if massage fulfills” that promise.”

The study wasn’t designed to determine the negative affects of lactic acid (or not) and that is up for debate as well. It was simply to determine if massage improved blood flow and thus helped to remove lactic acid post-exercise.

Volunteers went through a forearm exercise regime that caused muscle fatigue and lactic-acid build up.

Following the exercise: “they either lay quietly for 10 minutes (passive recovery), intermittently squeezed a handgrip at about10 percent of their maximum strength for the same 10 minutes (active recovery) or had their arm massaged by a certified sports-massage therapist for 10 undoubtedly pleasurable minutes. Throughout, blood flow to the forearm muscle of the volunteers was measured by ultrasound, while their lactic acid concentrations were monitored via blood samples.”

Here was the result of the study:

“It turned out that massage did not increase blood flow to the tired muscle; it reduced it. Every stroke, whether long and slow or deep and kneading, cut off blood flow to the forearm muscle. Although the flow returned to normal between strokes, the net effect was to lessen the amount of blood that reached the muscle, particularly compared with the amount that flowed to the forearm muscle during 10 minutes of passive recovery. Meanwhile, active recovery reduced blood flow as well, since muscular contractions, however slight, compress blood vessels in the muscle briefly. But the overall reduction of blood flow was significantly less during active recovery than during the massage session.”

So at the end of the day – massage did not improve blood flow and did not reduce lactic acid significantly.

So does this mean that massage has no benefit. I don’t believe you can come to that conclusion from this study and neither do the authors of the study. They obviously feel that more research is necessary. It is quite possible that there are additional physiological changes that transpire with massage that are not reflected in this research piece.

So…if our premise behind using massage post exercise or post activity is to help improve blood flow and to help reduce lactic acid, then we need to understand that this particular goal of treatment is not going to be accomplished based upon this reasearch.

What are your thoughts on this study? Massage following exercise is still going to be popular – what is the rationale for use? Interested in your thoughts?

There is a presentation in the Supplement to the Journal of Athletic Training entitled Anterior Compartment Syndrome and Tibial Stress Fracture in a Lacrosse Goalie.

This is a case study that: 1)underlines the use of injury prevention techniques to help reduce injury potential, and 2)highlights an unique cause of anterior compartment syndrome, which is generally an overuse-type injury.

In this case, a collegiate female lacrosse goalie sustained repeated blows to her left tibia with a lacrosse ball. She was repeatedly coaxed by the Athletic Trainer to wear proper shin protection but to no avail. The goalie refused to wear proper shin protection until it was too late and ended up anterior compartment syndrome and a tibial stress fracture of the left lower leg.

As a result, she was disqualified from participating in lacrosse in order to allow for proper healing and missed playing time as a result. In the end, a preventable injury ended up costing both the player and the team.

So some lessons learned from this:

    1. We need to be aware that anterior compartment syndrome and tibial stress fractures are certainly not limited to overuse mechanisms – repeated blows can also cause this type of injury
    2. Coaches and players need to comply with injury prevention strategies recommended by the athletic trainer.
    3. We may need to be pretty creative, emphatic,…(add word here) to get people not thinking real clearly to do so – for their own good

      One final comment – as athletic trainers, we need to do our best to find ways to make that decision a no-brainer. Maybe this case study will serve as proof that you can use to help convince those you work with to make better decisions. I am certainly not laying any blame on the athletic trainer – there is an old saying that goes “Those convinced against there will are of the same opinion still” – but for emphasis, let’s try to exhaust every available option outside of brute physical force (sarcasm intended) to drive home the perils of making dumb decisions.

      Thank you to the authors for sharing this case study with us so that we can use this as a teachable moment for our athletes who may not always be looking at the big picture.

      What situations have you encountered where someone has gone against your advice and ended up worse off?

      The weekend before Memorial Day weekend, I helped to cover a soccer tournament. We have a good group of folks that work together and it is fun to work with a group of athletic trainers in the athletic setting. Usually the event is rather – well, uneventful. Not so this last go around.

      Unfortunately the kids were dropping like flies and there were plenty of weekend ending (and more) injuries – fractured clavicle, probable ACL rupture, two nasty concussions, and more.

      One of the injuries that occurred on an opposite field from me was a nasty hip injury. We did get confirmation that the player did suffer at minimum an avulsion fracture (my guess is an apophyseal avulsion)- 3rd and 4th hand information is sometimes hard to decipher.

      I bring that particular injury up because in the most recent edition of the Journal of Sports Health there is an excellent submission speaking on this exact subject. Here is a link to the study that is complete with radiographs and MRI images.

      So let’s take the rest of post to discuss apophyseal avulsion fractures in youth athletes so that we can be more quick to recognize these injuries.

      The submission I will look at is entitled Orthopaedic Magnetic Resonance Imaging Challenge: Apophyseal Avulstions at the Pelvis.

      The particular case that spurred the research on was a 15 year old soccer player presenting with left hip pain and weakness for 4 weeks. Radiographs and MRI revealed regularities at the ASIS. The diagnosis was an apophyseal avulsion of the left ASIS.

      The authors note that apophyseal injuries of the hip and pelvis account for 10-24% of athletic injuries in children. You guessed it – soccer was one of the primary contributors to that figure. Other injuries with higher incidence are running and ballet. Football, baseball, track, gymnastics and cheerleading can also produce simmilar injuries.

      When dealing with youth athletes we need to be more cognizant of the bone-tendon-muscle junction. Often times, the weak link in youth is the physis – the myotendinous junction. In adults, the failure point is more commonly in the tendon. So when we see a strain-type injury in youth athletes, we need to be ever cognitive of this dynamic.

      As far as the most commonly affected apophyses that we need to be aware of:

      • Ischial tuberosity – hamstrings
      • AIIS – straight head of rectus femoris
      • ASIS – sartorius and TFL
      • Pubic symphysis – adductor brevis, longus, and gracilis

      Mechanism of injury: The most common mechanism is a sudden contraction (eccentric or concentric) during running, jumping, or kicking which causes traction on an unfused apophysis. Other mechanisms can be extreme passive stretching or microtrauma.

      With an acute injury, the athlete may experience a “pop” and immediate pain. Ecchymosis, swelling, weakness and an altered gait are all signs and symptoms.

      Often times, individuals may be referred for x-rays. It is important to understand however that if the avulsion is non-displaced or the apophysis is not yet ossified, radiographs may be negative. So, MRI is probably superior in that allows for view of the tendon attached to the avulsed apophysis. If surgery is a further consideration, the authors noted that CT scan is an even better option than MRI.

      In regards to imaging, x-rays can show an avulsion at the apophysis if it is ossified. If not, radiographic imaging may be inconclusive. So if this is the case and an avulsion is still suspected – MRI is the imaging of choice.

      Now a couple of specific considerations with MRI that the authors relay that are probably handy to note:

      • Fat-suppressed T2 weighted and STIR MRI sequences are best for acute injuries
      • T1-weighted sequences are more useful for chronic conditions

      As far as treatment considerations, nondisplaced avulsions are usually treated conservatively and the athlete can gradually return to activity after symptoms subside (4-6 weeks for resolution). Displaced avulsion fractures of more than 2cm are considerations for surgery, as are malunited or hypertrophied fragments.

      Overall, this was an excellent read and something that anyone who works (even if it is only twice a year covering a soccer tournament) with athletes should be aware of. So let me give a few summary take-home points to wrap this post up:

      • Apophyseal avulsions are a common injury, especially within that middle school to high school age range athlete
      • The most commonly avulsed apophysis at the hip are the ischial tuberosity, AIIS, and ASIS.
      • X-rays may be initially negative depending on whether or not the avulsion is non-displaced or non-ossified; so be diligent if symptoms persist, even if x-rays have already been taken, and understand that an MRI may be a more appropriate test
      • Understanding the locations of the apophyses and signs and symptoms to watch for will help you make better decisions for your athletes.

      The research article has several pictures of diagnostic tests that also give you some additional information as well.

      It was an excellent piece that certainly any athletic trainers working with athletes should read and brush up on. I highly recommend that you give it a read.

      Have you had any experience yourself with an apophyseal avulsion with any athletes in your care? Does some of the information in this blog post ring true with your experience?

      Remembrance

      Most of us will spend this weekend kicking off summer vacation, sprucing up the yard, firing up the grill, or just plain old relaxing around the house for a change. That is certainly all fine and good and I will probably be the same as well.

      It is also a time to remember. Remembering is very powerful and contemplating what others have done and gone through is important.

      This particular weekend is set aside to remember those who have served in the armed forces. Most likely, you know a close friend, a sibling, a father, grandfather, etc (or yourself for that matter) who has served in the armed forces. If so, I have no doubt that they would appreciate a kind word, a hug, or even a simple thank you – in remembrance of their (and their family’s)  sacrifice.

      If you are up for it, I have read a couple of books a while back that give the average person (like you and me) a look into what many of our service men and women have to face in times of war. Ghost Soldiers and Brotherhood of Heroes are humbling books to read. The reality at the end of the day is that many never made it back. We remember, mourn, and pray for their families. For those that have made it home, we are thankful but also realize there are scars as well – we pray for their physical and emotional healing. And for the families that still have to carry on, with or without their loved service men and women, we remember them and lift them up as well.

      So as you enjoy the weekend, remember those who have served (or continue to serve) in the armed forces and their families. We will never understand the full magnitude of what individuals and families have given up. But remembrance is a small token that we can give to others to show that their lives and their efforts have not been forgotten. It is the very least that we can do.

      Photo Credit by Peter Noyes

      A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog post reviewing a study that compared crushed ice, cubed ice, and wetted ice and their effect on tissue cooling. The conclusion of the study was that wetted ice was the most effective in providing both surface temperature and tissue cooling.

      So, if the goal was to produce the most tissue cooling – the choice would have been to use cubed ice and add about a cup of room temp water to get your wetted ice treatment.

      Now, let’s fast forward to phase two that will help us even make better evidence-based decisions when we choose ice as a treatment modality.

      The most recent edition of the Journal of Athletic Training published a study entitled: The Magnitude of Tissue Cooling During Cryotherapy With Varied Types of Compression.

      This study compared the use of no compression, Flex-i-Wrap, and an elastic wrap as compression methods when applying ice. The study looked at both surface temperatures and intramuscular cooling. An interesting side note was that this study utilized crushed ice. (This is not a criticism – simply an observation that we can take into account at the end of the study when developing some take home points of note).

      Going into the study we would probably surmise that an ice bag secured with any type of compression would produce greater tissue cooling than no compression. This was largely true but there were some additional interesting findings.

      In respect to surface temperature cooling, there was a statistically significant difference with compression using an elastic wrap and no compression. However, there was no statistically significant difference between using Flex-i-Wrap and no compression or Flex-i-Wrap versus the elastic wrap. So, from this we can conclude that compression with an elastic wrap provides the greatest amount of surface temperature cooling. (Although we must also note that skin temperature is not necessarily a direct reflection of what is happening intramuscularly).

      When comparing intramuscular tissue temperature at approximately 2 cm below the skin, again compression with an elastic wrap produced greater intramuscular tissue cooling than both the Flex-i-Wrap and no compression.

      This to me was a bit of a surprise. I would not have expected much difference in means of compression. Many athletic trainers utilize Flex-i-Wrap or similar type product for several reasons. Apparently, the elastic wrap adds a level of insulation that is not necessarily provided with the Flex-i-Wrap.

      Another point that was also driven home in the study I reviewed last year, was that tissue cooling continues after the ice is removed. Ice, in this study, was applied for 30 minutes and the coldest tissue temperatures were measured at 40 minutes post treatment. So the tissue cooling continues for approximately 10 to 15 minutes following ice treatment.

      Please read the study in depth – it was well done and again helps us toward more evidence based practice.

      So when we look at this study and compare it with the previous study, what sort of best practices can we establish when using ice as a treatment modality?

      • Cubed, wetted ice is the treatment of choice – crushed ice is probably the least “effective” in comparing the methods of cryotherapy using ice
      • Use compression over no compression – so instead of simply laying an ice bag on an ankle, calf, knee, etc – make sure to secure it with a compression wrap
      • Use an elastic wrap as the choice of compression – This method is more effective than using other plastic wrap methods
      • Both studies utilized treatment times of 30 minutes so this probably serves as a great reference point as well

      Following these evidence-based parameters will help athletic trainers provide their athletes and patients with proven methodologies that will ultimately provide more effective treatment. If you have these elements at your disposal, the research shows these are more effective.

      Thanks again to the authors of this study and to David Tomchuk, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS who took extra time to answer questions that I had about this study.

      What are your thoughts? Do this studies change the way you think about the application of ice?

      One book that I have recently added to my library is Advances in Functional Training by Mike Boyle.

      I have read about half of the book so far and it has been an excellent read and I would recommend adding this resource to your library.

      The things I appreciate about Mike and they are parlayed in this book are:

      • He has an athletic training background and so he does have that unique perspective of both a strength coach and an athletic trainer. The fact that he is primarily a strength coach gives additional insights for ATCs into the strength and conditioning realm that we may not normally see.
      • Much of his coaching is based upon injury prevention reduction strategies – what lifts, training regimens, etc. are going to help reduce the likelihood of player injury. He is constantly tweaking and re-fitting to put his athletes in the best position to be successful and avoid injury.
      • He is great at using the wisdom that he has gleaned from others to help formulate his training philosophies – the book is littered with insights from individuals such as Shirley Sahrmman, Gray Cook, Gary Gray, Stuart McGill and many more. We can’t be smart enough to know it all and Mike is master at seeking out experts in the field and melding their expertise into his training to develop even better programming and training strategies
      • He is not afraid to go against the grain and to question sacred cows. My philosophy has always been – “just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it is right” – I think that is a pretty fair summary of how Mike does things and what is illustrated in the book. He continually challenges traditional thinking and is not afraid to challenge his own practices and strategies as well.

      Overall, there is a ton of information in this book that will reaffirm what you are currently doing and will challenge some of the strategies that you are currently using.

      I’d definitely recommend picking this book up and adding it to your library.