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SPORTS MEDICINE

JOHN DOHERTY: Some midsummer thoughts on weight training, marching band safety protocols and diet supplements

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Idle thoughts as MLB teams go idle for the All-Star break…..

  • In April, I wrote about the benefits of strength training for baseball players young and old. 

If my word wasn’t good enough for reluctant baseball — and soccer — dads, then perhaps they will take the advice of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Last month’s issue featured an article entitled, “Mythology of youth resistance training.”

With co-authors from Boston Children’s Hospital and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, among other institutions, the story’s lede read, “The health and fitness benefits of youth resistance training are well established. In addition to increasing muscular fitness and fundamental movement skills, resistance training can increase bone mineral density, improve cardiometabolic health, facilitate weight control and reduce sport-injury risk. The World Health Organization recommends that children and adolescents participate in strength-building activities at least 3 days per week.”

Still, despite such authoritative advice, “Participation in youth resistance training is falling short of expectations,” the co-authors lamented.

Young athletes who have any expectations of success will find the path of least resistance goes through the weight room.

  • Last July, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed legislation that expanded to marching band directors the requirement that coaches be trained in how to treat sudden cardiac arrest. However, the health of band members goes well beyond their hearts.

It is long past time, given how strenuous the activity is — especially in the heat, that marching band members receive the same physical training and medical care as athletes.

Toward that end, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) last week was promoting its Band Safety course on Twitter. Recommended for school administrators and directors and sponsors of marching bands, the course has the right price. It’s free.

In May, NFHS published an article entitled, “Heat illness prevention — keep the marching band playing.” In it, Drs. Neha Raukar and James Weaver warned how hot different marching surfaces get when the air temperature reaches 90 F: grass 90 F, concrete 135 F, and asphalt 145 F. No mention of artificial turf.

They also reported on a study of news reports published last year by the University of Georgia that “found between 1990 and 2020, nearly 400 (band members nationwide) became ill due to heat exposure and 44% required hospital treatment.”

The National Athletic Trainers Association, in a document also published in May (NATA Offers Timely Recommendations to Keep Marching Band Members Healthy and Well Prepared for Activity | NATA), recommended the following for marching band programs: a preseason physical for members, a venue-specific written — and annually practiced — emergency action plan, preseason conditioning including strength training and heat acclimatization, a lightning safety plan, alternative T-shirt and shorts uniforms in the heat, proper hydration, a concussion education program, and a fully-stocked first-aid kit.

That sounds pretty much the same as any other sport to me.

  • Last month, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an editorial that said vitamins and supplements are a “waste of money” for most people and endorsed exercise and healthy eating instead. There was one qualifier. Pregnant women still need to follow their physician’s advice regarding iron and folic acid.

Two supplements were singled out to avoid altogether. Beta carotene has been linked to lung cancer. Vitamin E, long-claimed to reduce heart disease and cancer, just does not work.

On the other hand, buried in the editorial was an acknowledgement of some evidence that multivitamins slightly increase longevity.

One popular supplement of late was not addressed in the editorial: beetroot juice.

However this year, the journal Sports Health has published two articles regarding its benefits. The current print edition includes a literature review out of Spain which examined nine studies. Taken together, they demonstrated that beetroot juice supplementation shortens the period of post-exercise muscle soreness and speeds up recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage.

Also from Spain (different authors but from some of the same universities) comes a study that was published online in May but has yet to appear in print. This effort concluded that beetroot juice supplementation, two hours prior to a workout, increased strength among physically active women.

Take note. The supplement was a kind of vegetable juice, not a pill, and benefit was only derived when combined with exercise.

John Doherty is a licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at jdoherty@comhs.org. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.

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