Saturday, September 10, 2011

athletes are the most gullible people.....

athletes will try anything it seems. follow the link above and learn about the next crazy thing on their ever-lasting pursuit for greatness. hard work aside, that magic bullet just seems to be at the end of that rainbow, like the pot of gold....

anyway, cryotherapy at 166 degrees BELOW zero sounds absolutely crazy. but someone's pitching it to some athletes who seem willing to buy into anything.

now, there are some supplements and steroids and drugs that work...but all will have some detrimental if not dangerous side effects that do not seem to deter jocks. i've given this some thought over the years - is it ok for jocks in pursuit of big bucks and fame to put their bodies at risk by taking substances that are potentially dangerous? can society blame them?

back when i first opened my gym, STEPS, in late 1989, a phenomenal athlete at u of georgia = herschel walker - was all the rage. a specimen beyond belief, and a great athlete, too, and all natural. the story has it that he never lifted weights til college - but he did a 1000 push ups (not all at once) with his siblings on his back (not all at the same time.) when his coach found out about this, he didn't bother making walker lift like the rest of the team. now, i don't know if this is true or legend, but it speaks to the possibility that there are athletes born, and athletes made, and those who work hard and put in the energy and focus will take 'made' only so far; being born to be an athlete is not a ticket to success but it is the first big step towards it.

anyway, over the years we read about jocks, pros and college athletes, who did substances that are illegal or just delusional. society faults these kids - and they are kids, now that i'm almost 60 - for abusing their bodies this way in pursuit of fame, money, and sex - yes, that comes with it, so don't discount the driving power of all the hot chicks you could ever ask for. but these are public images that don't speak to the same driving forces that impel some to become great researchers, doctors, lawyers, or investment bankers and such. whatever their drugs - even if not exogenous, such as speed or alcohol - that they use to get to where they get, there are untold numerous stories of failed marriages, dislocated families, etc that result from these same drives. sure they wield power and fame and money but have they really touched anyone in a way as to have a positive impact? or did they leave burnt fields behind them in their wake as they slashed and burned anything to get to the top of their field? well, who am i to say, but that drug - the one that drives us, men and women alike, to succeed is probably nothing worse than the ones the kids take to go to the next level of success along the athlete's ladder.

i know that when i trained heavy in tae kwon do - 7 d/wk, 3-5 hrs/d - i was leaving a set of bad joints in my future and disrupted families as i single-mindedly went about justifying everything i was doing to become a better tkd-ist. not being an athlete by birth, i had to work hard just to be decent. others could get by on less effort and therefore succeed but i wanted to succeed at a higher level. today, with one new hip and a new knee in my near future i don't regret a thing. but i do feel bad about having put my first family on hold as i dawdled in grad school so as to be able to train hard. and while it's not all my fault, it is 100% my responsibility for how i handled my pursuit of success. had there been some good cheap - i was poor during that phase - drugs that would have helped me along my desired path, maybe i would have taken them.

but, even before herschel walker, i believed you should go naturally.

still do....

Monday, September 5, 2011

sports med, voodoo, and you

i love reading about sports medicine - from lay to professional literature i find this stuff amazingly interesting. why? because today's news is tomorrow's old news.

when i was in graduate school, i did a project - and independent study - where i reviewed many articles on hips and knees and summarized each in abstract form so that i could learn way more than my department profs could teach me. needless to say, i forgot nearly everything but some i remember because it keeps cropping up again and again.

for example, when jerry rice of the 49ers tore his acl years ago, in september, it was expected that he would not be back for the rest of the season. surprisingly he played again in early december, caught a touchdown pass, landed on his surgical knee, and ended his career. why? because the very procedure - patella bone - patella tendon - patella bone, or b-t-b - that sped his recovery left his patella a little weaker so that when he landed on his knee, it fractured. and that's a bad injury. nonetheless, orthopods started doing that procedure and prevented their patients from going out into contact situations a bit later than rice's couple months plus.

at the time it was believed that this procedure would not interfere with the hamstrings' ability to control the knee after a graft. furthermore, what with infectious diseases like AIDS, it was a great technique that used the patient's own tissue to reconstruct the acl. furthermore, tho the quads would be weakened by this technique, they would recover quickly, as rice's did, with the p.t. techniques that were available at that time. so, here was a great new procedure...until too many issues came up. you see, the more these are done, the more data is collected. unlike drugs, you can't provide placebo surgeries on otherwise healthy people to test the short and long term effects of a surgical technique. also, it's not til folks go and test these procedures in real life, not the clinic or lab, that you find out if they work better than previous or other procedures. so, when improved hamstring techniques - the ones i read about in college - came along, and the improved p.t. that had evolved since my college days that would reinstate proper hams function (proprioceptive strategies that were hardly in use in the mid 80s)the b-t-b procedure fell out of favor.

for your understanding as to why i feel so confident in this assessment, i have had many opportunities to observe one of nashville's best orthopedic surgeons do the b-t-b procedure a few years back. based on my daughter's observations last summer, he's not doing as many of them; he's doing more hamstring reconfigurations.)

my point is, this article addresses these issues and how it is that procedures and techniques hit the mainstream only to fail under scrutiny over a longer time frame than most of us injured athletes are willing to wait on. does this make these voodoo, or experimental? well, if it's your joint, it's experimental til it becomes voodoo. but don't fault the doc - he's simply following his muse. and if he didn't, we would not know for sure, in the future, whether or not we missed an opportunity to perform a different, better procedure. unfortunately, you may have been the guinea pig. fortunately, rarely is sports orthopedics a life-death issue. however, other sport med treatments are potentially dangerous, not just expensive or painful, so beware a doc's advice just because he has this new certification or machine. also, i know from experience with a very trusted and competent sports med doc who gave me hyaluronidase (sp?) injections for my arthritic knee that costs are added in when you don't know about them. so, he used a new ultrasound machine he'd just gotten to better see where to put the needle. upon doing so, he said it showed him exactly where he'd have put it anyway. when i got the bill, and saw it cost an extra $500 plus, i confronted him on it. he quickly stopped using it, explaining that the main office told him to use this - and obviously for making extra money on an otherwise relatively inexpensive treatment - like double!!!

so, before you volunteer to be a lab rat, be sure to ask the doc if there are other more proven methods; and how one stacks up against the other in cost, convenience (how many times do you need to see the doc- because each visit costs a lot of money), and consequences, incl pain, time off, etc. then make an informed decision, not based on jerry rice's enormously aggressive work ethic and his unreasonable hours in the gym that allowed an elite athlete already biologically unique to rapidly heal and perform.