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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why Female Athletes Are Getting Hurt

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Last weekend I got a tremendous opportunity to become a DVRT (Dynamic Variable Resistance Training) Master Trainer for Innovative Fitness Solutions.  Not only was this an opportunity to learn from Josh Henkin, Troy Anderson, and Jessica Bento, but I also learned from the group of top fitness professionals that they brought in from all over the world. 

One of these fitness professionals that impressed me was Mitch Hauschildt.  It will be very difficult to find someone in the industry with a resume like Mitch...So I decided to interview him about a topic that I am very concerned with..."Training The Female Athlete"

Check out what Mitch has to say and see why Missouri State University trusts all of their athletes to Mitch:

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1.     Can you state your job title and description at Missouri State University? 

Prevention, Rehab, and Physical Performance Coordinator for all 16 NCAA D1 Sports; Strength & Conditioning Coach for Women’s Basketball and Volleyball

2.     I know that you are a man of many hats...besides what you do at MSU, What other hats do you wear? 

I actually wear a lot of hats on a daily basis.  I am a husband and father of 2 small children.  Obviously, judging by my title at MSU, I do a lot of different things there.  Additionally, I am the founder of Maximum Training Solutions, LLC, a sports medicine consulting and education company.  I am also a Sports Medicine Instructor for TRX and a DVRT Master Instructor for Innovative Fitness Solutions.  Outside of my professional duties, I am also on the leadership team for Man Up, an organization that performs Christian based missions work in Africa.

3.     Can you talk a little bit about young female athletes and why we are seeing more and more females getting hurt while playing their sport? 

I think that there are a number of reasons that all likely play a small role, but add up to something that is problematic.  First, female sports have never been so popular.  Thus, 20 years ago, female athletes just didn’t play the amount of games and reps that they do now.  Thus, they are exposed to a lot more injuries. 

Secondly, our female athletes are getting taller and larger, but it just doesn’t seem that their overall strength levels are improving at the same rate.  So, they have longer lever arms than ever, but no more strength, which provides them a significantly lower mechanical advantage. 

Another major issue is the way that they are being trained.  Many young high school females are lifting at their schools with no thoughts of possible gender differences by the high school strength coach or physical education teacher.  Females aren’t being taught how to use their gluts and hips appropriately, even though we know that they tend to be at a genetic disadvantage in this area.  They tend to have very little stability throughout their entire chain, and very few people are teaching them how to decelerate safely under load. 

On top of all of these factors, you can add things like poor nutrition, not enough attention to recovery, and hormone levels as other likely factors.  You put all of this together and it makes for a recipe for disaster.

4.     What types of injuries do you see frequently coming up?  In your opinion, why are they coming up so frequently?  

       I still think that an ACL injury is most common, most feared major injury.  We have come a long way in understanding why they continue to happen, but much of the research still isn’t trickling down to youth parents and coaches, so the athletes at the greatest risk are not getting what they need. 

The other injury that we are seeing more of is hip pain.  There isn’t a lot of good research out there or good orthopedists who are successfully treating young athletic hip injuries.  Many of these hip injuries can fall under the classification of hip impingement, where the femur and pelvis don’t function properly and end up pinching other tissue around the joint.  Cartilage tears in the hip are also becoming more prevalent, but not quite to the level of the impingement cases. 

I believe that most of the hip pain that I see is due to a lack of core stability.  This is especially true of athletes with poor rotational stability and/or poor deceleration.  Thus, they are unable to appropriately stabilize their pelvis and the hip flexor tries to make up for the difference.  That becomes problematic in the long run.

5.     What can be done to help keep female athletes healthy before and after injury? 

The best things that young female athletes can do to stay healthy is to eat right, get plenty of sleep, and train hard during their off-season.  Their training needs to be done by someone who understands the female body and the differences between training them and, say, a college football player.  Their program focus must be on training for stability in the lower body and core.  This should start in isolated movement patterns, but must progress into using their stability while running, decelerating, jumping, and rotating in their sport. 

And there is no replacement for strength.  At the end of the day, strength is the fundamental basis of all athletic movement.  Without strength, your athlete will never be fast or jump high.  The trick to a good program is combining strength with stability and quality movement patterns.  When those are put together into a quality, comprehensive program, the athlete stands a great chance at staying healthy long term.

For more information regarding Mitch Hauschild, please check out at www.maximumtrainingsolutions.com