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The First Aider


December 13, 2014

Jodie Smith, ATC, CSCS, is an outreach athletic trainer for rural high schools in Montana. She loves the variety and opportunity to make an impact on many teens.

Jodie grew up in Billings, Montana, and attended Billings West High School. Through the school’s student athletic training program, she took a sports medicine class as a sophomore, and was an athletic training student during her junior and senior years. She knew athletic training was the career for her.

Jodie attended the University of Montana in Missoula. “At the time, it was the only curriculum athletic training program in the state,” she says. Upon graduation in 1998, Jodie thought she might want to work with a professional team, but there were few internships offered then. “I didn’t want a masters degree,” Jodie recalls, “and I was sure I could find a job. But when I was still unemployed after a month I decided to get my Masters at Montana State University – Billings, so I’d be more marketable.” She completed the program in just 13 months, graduating in August 1999.

After that, Jodie taught for a few years and did some part-time athletic training, but didn’t find a position doing both, which was her hope. Then in 2006 she was hired by her current employer, Ortho Montana. The organization provides sports medicine services to the Billings region, covering a radius of about 100 miles.

In her position, Jodie visits seven rural schools, spends most afternoons as an assistant athletic trainer at the high school she attended in Billings, and works one morning a week at an orthopedic clinic, working with physicians. “The variety makes it fun,” she says. “I never know what I’ll see when I get to a school. No visit or trip is the same.”

If it sounds like she drives a lot of miles, you’re right! During the 2013-14 school year, Jodie drove more than 12,000 miles on her job. “I spend a lot of time in my car,” she acknowledges. “It’s both my second home and my office, complete with snacks, clothing changes for any kind of weather, and athletic training kits. During my drives I see amazing scenery including antelopes, eagles, hawks, pheasants, and wild turkeys.” During inclement weather, Jodie frequently uses her phone to check reports from the Montana Department of Transportation and doesn’t go out if the roads are hazardous.

It can be kind of tough when two of her high schools play each other, but Jodie knows how to handle it. “I cheer for all good plays,” she says. “During the games, I walk back and forth a lot and they holler if they need me. The coaches do some of the first aid, and the coaches and officials know when they should call me over. They’ve even stopped games to let me run across the field if they don’t want me to take the time to walk around the field. At the end of the game, I go into huddles for both teams to check on injuries.”

The students Jodie works with give her the most satisfaction on her job. “I really like the kids,” she says. “I teach them to become informed healthcare consumers, because there are always options. So many decisions are made for high school students, but I want them to use their brains and learn to make good choices. This way, they feel empowered in their healing process. I’m also there to listen when they’re frustrated.”

Without a doubt, Jodie is making an impact on the lives of the many students she gets to know in rural Montana. For example, the smallest school she works with has just nine students, and seven of them formed a cross-country team even though running is new to many of them. Jodie says, “I recently evaluated a sophomore on the team who was experiencing shin pain. I discovered that she over-pronated, and also had a tendency to internally rotate at the hip with some valgus of her knee. I started her on calf stretches and hip external rotation exercises.”

She continues, “The student left my office (also known as the school library!) with an understanding of her personal biomechanics and an explanation for several past injuries as well. She was excited to go home and tell her mom and said to me, ‘Why can’t doctors explain things like this?’ As I was leaving the school, I overheard her relaying everything we had talked about to her coach, who is also her science teacher. That was a really good day.” Read More


December 12, 2014

Research suggests that meditation may help U.S. military personnel cope with the stresses of combat more effectively. Now, UC San Diego researchers are looking at whether strengthening the mental muscle of Olympic athletes could confer a competitive edge in the world of sports, too.

The early results, though not definitive, are promising: The first group of athletes to complete a mindfulness training program developed at UC San Diego won first, second and third place at the 2014 USA Cycling Elite BMX National Championships.

Though the podium sweep is not being directly attributed to the mind-focusing benefits of meditation, the athletes, their coach and the health care practitioners who developed the mindfulness training program acknowledge the value of addressing psychological dimensions of winning races.

"You hear athletes say, 'My head wasn't in it,' " said Lori Haase, a postdoctoral fellow at the UC San Diego School of Medicine who developed the mPEAK training program with Steven Hickman, director of UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness, at the request of the USA BMX team coach. "Most of the time, people in sports have focused on the neck down. They focus on nutrition, on building muscle or eye-hand coordination, but they ignore what is going on in the head. Scientists are really beginning to be able to see that thoughts can get in the way of performance."

The mindful Performance Enhancement, Awareness and Knowledge (mPEAK) program is an intensive course on meditation and body awareness. It also teaches athletes how to better deal with pain, stress and failure and how to cultivate a positive mental attitude. For example, perfectionism is considered to be an impediment to reaching one’s full potential.

After completing the program, the cyclists were directed to practice mindfulness training 20 minutes, twice a day, and to attend weekly 90-minute follow-up sessions with instructors for six weeks. The team has since incorporated meditation practices into its training routine.

In terms of how meditation has sharpened the team’s edge, researchers said the most obvious change has been at the race’s start, saying their body language is calmer, they move their hands less on the bars, and they get out of the gate a little faster.

Connor Fields, winner of the 2014 USA Cycling Elite BMX National Championship and the 2013 BMX World Champion, agreed that meditation has helped. "But the biggest thing I have learned is how to be consciously mindful and aware of my current situation,” he said. “I am more present than I used to be."

Indeed, the goal of mindfulness training is to help people become more fully present in the moment by training their minds to notice when their thoughts are wandering, and then to bring their attention back to the current moment. Repeated over and over, the researchers say, the brain’s baseline functioning changes and so does its anatomy.

Recent studies with U.S. Marine Corps personnel have shown that mindfulness training reduces neuronal activity in the anterior insular cortex and anterior cingulate, regions of the brain responsible for integrating emotional reactivity, cognition and interoception. High-activity levels in these brain regions are associated with anxiety and mood disorders.

The scientists hypothesized that the BMX team members who participated in mindfulness training will respond to the mind exercises in much the same way as the Marines did, and if this were true, it would lend further credence to the idea that mindfulness training can teach the brain to respond to potentially stressful situations with less emotional affect.

To test these ideas, the scientists recently completed a second round of functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of the athletes’ brains. These scans measure blood flow in the brain (a proxy for neuronal activity), while the person performs a stressful task, such as breathing through a narrow straw that restricts airflow.

Reduced blood flow in the anterior insular cortex and anterior cingulate suggest that the brain is interpreting the experience of breathing through the straw as a bodily sensation (the feeling of restricted airflow) with less emotional reactivity added to the experience. In this way, meditation is helping the body optimize its response to unpleasant or stressful experiences, preventing a cascade of thoughts that could sabotage performance, the scientists said.

“We know pretty conclusively that mindfulness training can help people with chronic pain and illness and this has been the focus of mindfulness training for 30 years,” Hickman said. “We also know that there is an amazing parallel between what we teach in mindfulness and the brains of peak performers. People have wondered if there is a ceiling effect and whether people who already have attributes of mindfulness might not achieve the same benefits. It’s looking like peak performers can benefit from mindfulness training and this means recreational athletes, as well as other peak performers in business, academia and other fields, could likely benefit, too.” Read More


December 11, 2014

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has announced its annual fitness trend forecast based on survey responses from more than 3,400 health and fitness professionals worldwide. Now in its ninth year, the survey is designed to reveal trends in various fitness environments. Thirty-nine potential trends were given as choices, and the top 20 were ranked and published by ACSM. The results were published in the November/December issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.

The survey shows that push-ups, planks, lunges and squats are having their moment in the limelight. “It’s no surprise to see body weight training claiming the top spot this year,” said Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, the lead author of the survey. “These kinds of exercises provide the benefit of requiring little to no equipment and are incorporated into many fitness programs that are currently popular.”

The top 10 fitness trends predicted for 2015 are:

1. Body Weight Training

2. High-Intensity Interval Training

3. Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals

4. Strength Training

5. Personal Training

6. Exercise and Weight Loss

7. Yoga

8. Fitness Programs for Older Adults

9. Functional Fitness

10. Group Personal Training

11. Worksite health promotion

12. Outdoor activities

13. Wellness coaching

14. Circuit training

15. Core training

16. Sports-specific training

17. Children and exercise for treatment/prevention of obesity

18. Outcome measurements

19. Worker incentive programs

20. Boot camp

Click here for the full report and survey results Read More


December 10, 2014

Cramer’s De-Hesive tape remover is one of those products that could be described as an unsung hero that flies under the radar. But despite its decidedly unglamorous reputation, De-Hesive is a tried-and-true product that every athlete hopes every athletic trainer will have at the ready when it’s time to remove adhesive from the skin.

Now is a great time to give De-Hesive a try, because it’s being re-introduced as a non-aerosol. This allows for a more concentrated spray pattern with no cloud of spray left hanging in the air.

De-Hesive’s formula of isopropyl alcohol and glycerin makes the removal of Tuf-Skin or any adhesive quick and painless.

Quick? Painless? Maybe De-Hesive deserves a little more respect. Give it a try and your athletes will say thank you! Read More

THERA°PEARL Offers Superior Protection To Skiers

December 7, 2014


Many can’t wait to hit the slopes for the ultimate ski and board active holiday. However, many of us forget that skiing is an extreme sport and don’t prepare our bodies sufficiently for on-slope action. Those with desk-bound jobs are especially vulnerable and as a result, painful injuries can occur which bring the winter fun to an abrupt end as well delivering a whole lot of pain.

Luckily for ski fans there’s THERAPEARL’s duo hot and cold packs. These handily provide both the necessary instant cold relief for injuries and also the heat therapy required to speed up any healing process. The doctor-designed, drug-free and high-tech packs containing Pearl Technology® can be either warmed up (in the microwave) or chilled down (in the freezer) and applied where required on the body – for the doctor prescribed 20 minutes – either before or after hitting the snow.

Pearl Technology® incorporated into THERAPEARL’s duo hot and cold packs comprises non-toxic, tiny pearls that are soft and pliable (even when frozen). These are contained within a range of specially shaped and contoured body packs which mean THERA°PEARL easily and comfortably conforms to any part of your body for effective treatment. What’s more, the dual action hot or cold option of the packs delivers twice the therapeutic benefit. Cold can be applied to reduce swelling and bruising, whilst heat provides penetrating pain relief.

By heating THERA°PEARL packs in the microwave and applying to stiff, cold joints, the stimulated blood flow warms up the muscles, helping to prevent injury by preparing the body for high intensity exercise which can cause muscle strain and torn ligaments.

Heat therapy increases circulation (blood flow), effectively relaxing muscles and easing movement. Stimulating blood flow to injured areas once swelling has gone down promotes healing and speeds recovery of damaged tissue.

For any injuries picked up on the slopes, heat should be introduced at least 24 hours after an injury, once swelling/bleeding has subsided. Cold packs can be used after any physical activity to lessen the effects of wear and tear on the body. To use, simply chill in the freezer or refrigerate for up to two hours and apply.

Ice therapy (a.k.a. cryotherapy) is one of the most common recommendations by doctors for injury prevention and recovery. Applying ice immediately after an injury or physical trauma (the sooner the better but certainly within 24 hours) constricts blood flow and slows bleeding/swelling and reduces pain and muscle spasm. Applying ice to the injured area decreases the metabolic rate of cells, which limits the risk of cell death after an injury and helps prevent long-term damage. Read More