• Sports Nutrition for Football Players

    Competitive sports require serious nutrition to provide the extra energy your body needs. Strength, speed, stamina and recovery all depend on proper nutrition, says Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Football players need to be conscious of carbohydrate and caloric intake, along with hydration.
    Calorie requirements increase no matter what position you play. The American Dietetic Association estimates that, especially during preseason training, football players need 5,000 to 9,000 calories a day. Of these, Bonci recommends that 55 percent to 60 percent come from carbohydrates, 15 percent from protein and 30 percent from fat. To help you get the right proportions, Bonci suggests dividing your plate in thirds and filling one-third with protein foods, such as red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, dried beans, nuts or soy products. Add starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta or potatoes in another third, and fill the final third of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
    Hydration does not mean pouring cold water over your head. Depending on the air temperature and intensity of your practice session or game, the ADA says you can lose 10 liters of body fluids per day. In addition, one practice in hot weather can result in a loss of 12 pounds through sweating. Bonci recommends a hydration plan that includes water and sports drinks, as these help replace electrolytes you lose through sweating. To ensure adequate hydration, drink one 16-ounce sports drink an hour before practice and 20 to 40 oz. of either water or a sports drink for each hour of practice. Weigh yourself immediately following each practice or game and for each pound of weight loss, drink 24 oz. of either water or a sports drink.
    Be careful when incorporating nutritional supplements into your diet. Check with your coach or review the governing body rule book as many ban supplements, even if they list all natural ingredients. One nutritional supplement the ADA lists as common for players over age 18 is creatine, according to Lehigh University Athletics. Creatine may help increase muscle energy without side effects, but high school players under age 18 should not use creatine supplements. The ADA says there is not enough evidence to ensure the supplements are safe for young players. If you incorporate creatine into your sports nutrition plan, do not exceed 3 to 5 g per day.
    Another important aspect of sports nutrition for football players is a regular schedule of meals and snacks. Bonci advises that you create and stick to a plan that includes three meals a day with snacks in between. Before each game, you should consume a low-fat, lean-protein and carbohydrate-rich meal, and include a postgame snack, such as peanut butter crackers, trail mix, yogurt with cereal, a bagel with cream cheese or a sports bar within 30 minutes of finishing practice or a game.

  • Vitamin B12 for Burning Tingling & Numb Feet

    Numbness and tingling in the extremities is an annoying symptom with many causes. Diabetes, tight shoes and a vitamin deficiency can all be culprits. Before talking to your health-care provider, take careful note of your other symptoms to help indicate a diagnosis. Most causes of tingling and numbness in the feet can be successfully treated.
    Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin necessary to maintain nerve health. B12 participates in metabolizing fatty acids to make myelin, the sheath surrounding nerves. It occurs naturally in dairy and proteins, but is not stored in the body the way fat-soluble vitamins are. A small amount of B12 is stored in the liver, according to the Vegetarian Society, but the vitamin needs to be replenished daily.
    Diagnosing a vitamin B12 deficiency is essential before beginning treatment. Symptoms for the deficiency include burning, tingling and numbness in the feet or hands as well as mental confusion, anemia, irregular menstrual cycles and sore tongue. You don’t need to have all of the symptoms to have a B12 deficiency, and it is usually easily diagnosed with a blood test.
    Adults need 1.5mcg per day to maintain healthy body function. A vitamin B12 deficiency can be avoided by eating a diet rich in meat, dairy and eggs. Other foods, such as breads and some pastas, are fortified with the vitamin. Supplementation is especially important for vegetarians and vegans, who usually don’t get enough B12 through their diet.
    The benefit of vitamin B12 supplementation is that it can quickly bring blood levels of the vitamin up to normal. Vitamin B12 can be administered in pill form that is swallowed, pill form that is dissolved under the tongue, nasal spray or as an injection. Dosages vary depending on the level of the deficiency. Your doctor will need to prescribe a large dose of B12, according to the health-care providers at MayoClinic.com. Blood tests will show if your body is getting enough B12 to maintain health.
    Vitamin B12 is usually not toxic even in high doses because it isn’t stored in the body, according to Drugs.com. However, there are side effects that can be annoying. They include headache, nausea, joint pain, fever and rash. Some people are allergic to cobalt, which is a component of B12. Always consult with your health-care provider before taking any supplements.

  • How Has Soccer Affected the World?

    With 265 million active players, soccer is bound to have effects in societies at large. The game arouses passionate devotion in its fans and great riches for its players and team owners, with impacts that can uplift or disrupt lives and nations.
    Modern soccer was born in England in 1863 when a group of players agreed on rules for a kicking game. The simplicity of soccer, with its 17 rules and need for only a ball and a patch of ground, allowed players of humble origin to play and excel at the game. Soccer became linked to Britain¡¯s class system, as the working class gravitated to ¡°football¡± while the upper classes preferred cricket and rugby. From the 1960s onward, hooligans fueled by heavy drinking and sometimes nationalism rampaged at and near soccer stadiums. Fans organized themselves into command-and-control structures called ¡°firms¡± attached to specific clubs to engage in ritual combat.
    Soccer made its way across the English Channel to become wildly popular in Continental Europe. During the 1914 Christmas truce of World War I, German and British troops put down their weapons and played a soccer game. German and Dutch fans in the 1980s and 1990s also engaged in hooliganism, and in 1985 English clubs and fans began a five-year ban from continental play after a wall collapse during violent riots at a Brussels stadium killed 39 fans.
    Mahatma Gandhi realized soccer¡¯s appeal to the disenfranchised. Before moving to India to lead its independence drive, in 1904 he established soccer clubs, each named the Passive Resisters Soccer Club, in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. He is credited with involving non-whites in sporting activities, laying a foundation more than a century later for the 2010 World Cup, held in South Africa. As of 2010, an estimated 1,000 African soccer players make their living in European pro leagues. Along with Brazil¡¯s 5,000 pros in Europe, they provide a talent upgrade to clubs at all levels.
    Soccer passions burn brightly in Latin America. Stadiums such as Mexico City¡¯s 105,000-capacity Azteca create a hostile environment for visiting teams trying to qualify for the World Cup. In 1969, Salvador and Honduras went to war for four days in the wake of a violent World Cup qualifying match. Colombia¡¯s national squad performed exceptionally well in the 1980s and early 1990s, with improvements funded by drug lords who created training camps and improved national soccer standards. Tragedy ensued with the slaying of Colombia phenomenon Andres Escobar after he accidentally committed an own goal in a 1994 World Cup match against the United States. The region also features success stories, such as Brazil¡¯s Ronaldinho, who earns $35 million a year and inspires millions of aspiring players in his home country.
    Though soccer swiftly arrived in the United States right after its invention in England, the game remained in the shadows of baseball and basketball. In 1996, American women vastly increased appreciation for the sport with a gripping gold-medal performance at the Olympic games in Atlanta. Ranked No. 1 in the world as of 2010, the United States dominates women¡¯s soccer at the Olympic and international levels. Stars such as Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Julie Foudy and Abby Wambach strive to inspire young female athletes.

  • Thigh Rash from Football Pads

    Rashes caused by football pads can range from transient redness of the skin caused by chafing to serious skin infections. Since football is a contact sport, it is associated with a high rate of skin infections. While most non-infectious rashes typically resolve on their own, see your doctor if you are concerned about a rash so that he can appropriately diagnose and treat the condition.
    Heat rash is a type of rash that occurs from exactly as the name suggests — heat. Heat rashes are caused by the blockage of the sweat ducts in your skin. When this occurs, your sweat becomes blocked within these ducts, resulting in the formation of red, itchy bumps. Heat rashes are associated with hot environments, exercise and sporting equipment, such as football pads, that prevent sweat from evaporating from the surface of the skin. Most cases of heat rash can be treated by simply decreasing perspiration. Severe cases necessitate medical treatment with steroids to reduce inflammation.
    Chafing of the skin can be caused by friction between your skin and football pads or even on the inside of your thighs. Over time, this repeated friction produces an irritated, red appearance to the skin and can sometimes even cause the skin to bleed. Chafing can easily be prevented by applying petroleum jelly or a lubricating balm to the areas of friction prior to playing football. Frequent application while playing may be required as well.
    Acne mechanica is a type of acne that commonly occurs in athletes and is caused by excessive sweating, occlusion, pressure or friction of the skin. For football players, this can occur from football pads as well as tight uniforms, helmets, straps or braces. Acne mechanica can be distinguished from other rashes by the appearance of blackheads, whiteheads or small red bumps with or without pus on the skin exposed to tight sporting equipment or clothing. Acne mechanica can be treated as well as prevented by showering after you finish playing football and wearing cotton shirts beneath your football uniform to absorb sweat and minimize the friction between your skin and football pads. When showering, a body soap containing salicylic acid should be used, which cleans away dirt and oil, and unclogs pores.
    Skin infections are prevalent among athletes who participate in sports involving direct contact such as football. According to the Minnesota Department of Health Fact Sheet, 10 percent of athletes on the sidelines are kept from playing due to some type of a skin infection. The culprits behind these infections may be bacteria, fungi or viruses, including impetigo, molluscum contagiosum, herpes simplex, ringworm, jock itch and MRSA.
    See your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of an infection such as a rash that is swollen, red, warm to the touch, drains fluid or if you also have a fever, chills or sweats. Any athlete with a rash that drains fluids should not be allowed to participate in practices or games until the rash has resolved.

  • How to Break in Soccer Shoes

    Players look forward to breaking in new soccer shoes at the beginning of every season. This is necessary to mold quality leather shoes to your feet over the life of the shoes. Top-end kangaroo leather, thin yet strong, makes an ideal soccer shoe upper to take the shape of your foot. These shoes require care and preparation before you can use them in live game play.
    Purchase soccer shoes that are a half size to a full size smaller than what you normally wear. Check that the shoes are made of leather that will stretch to mold to your feet. You want the leather to hug the curves of your foot so that you have a better touch on the ball.
    Wear the shoes on soft grassy ground with the same equipment you would wear in a game. Put on your soccer socks and shin guards, so that when the shoes start to take shape, they will form to the shape of what your foot will look like during the game. Do light exercises, such as walking, jogging, dribbling and juggling to begin to break in the leather.
    Shower with your cleats and soccer socks on. Use warm water, as this will help to loosen up the leather. Keep the shoes on as they begin to dry, as this is when the leather will begin to form to the shape of your foot. Stuff the inside of the shoes with balled-up newspaper when you take them off, which will absorb excess water and retain the shape of the shoe.
    Rub petroleum jelly or leather food onto the uppers to keep the leather soft and help prevent the formation of blisters.
    Wear the shoes to practice before wearing them for a game. Bring an extra pair, so that you can wear the new cleats for a short period of time and then switch out of them. It will be much more difficult to change cleats if they begin to create blister during a game as opposed to a practice setting.

  • How Much Actual Playtime Occurs in a Baseball Game?

    The real action in baseball games is less than you might think. Sportswriters Dick Wade and Rick Reilly timed the games, one in 1956 and the other in 2000. Those numbers hadn’t changed in nearly fifty years. Although the findings are not definitive, it is fair, not foul, to say that the amount of action in a baseball game is minimal. Since many baseball games take more than 3 hours to complete, the notion that baseball is a slow-moving game may be true.
    A sportswriter in Kansas City, Dick Wade timed the action in a baseball game in 1956, reported Tom Peters in the “Philadelphia Inquirer.” Wade timed the seconds from the time the ball left the pitcher’s hand until it arrived at the plate. On balls that were hit, he measured the time it took until the batter was safe or out. According to his figures, there were 8.5 minutes of actual play during the game, a high-scoring affair won by Kansas City 15 to 6.
    Famed “Sports Illustrated” journalist and columnist Rick Reilly timed a baseball game in 2000 and determined that the amount of action during the game, which lasted for 3 hours, 15 minutes, totaled 12 minutes, 22 seconds, and Reilly wrote he was generous with his stopwatch. As is his wont, Reilly expressed exasperation with the lack of action in a variety of funny and pithy ways. For example, “Percentage of boys who’d rather the coolest kid in school see them with their mom in JCPenny’s lingerie section than watching baseball on TV: 99.”
    A precise analysis of four football games by “The Wall Street Journal” in 2010 found that the amount of action in a football game was 11 minutes, about the same as baseball. As a result, TV broadcasts of both football and baseball games spend huge amounts of time focusing on the nonaction. You see lots of shots of managers in the dugout or in a conference at the mound, relief pitchers coming from the bullpen and hitters taking practice swings and spitting. Likewise, in football, more time is spent in the huddle and standing around during timeouts than actually playing the game. Of course, that leaves plenty of time for commercials.
    The slow pace of baseball is a selling point for traditionalists. If you love baseball, you love the moments of action and the many more moments of baseball ambiance as the players ponder the significance of the last play while the commentators discuss batting percentages and the history of the teams. If you’re in the stands, there’s plenty of time for more garlic fries and hot roasted peanuts. It may be surprising to outsiders, but the amount of action has little to do with the popularity of a sport. Football is the most popular sport in America, but compared to basketball or soccer, the amount of action is minuscule.

  • What Are the Fundamental Skills in Soccer?

    Soccer is a sport unlike almost all others, as the feet are needed for technical skills more than the hands. A number of fundamental skills are needed to play soccer, with advanced players able to build on the fundamental skills for more complex and precise dribbling, passing and shooting. The skills of a soccer player also vary from one position to another, with a goalkeeper needing much different skills than a field player.
    Passing is one of the most fundamental skills in soccer, as it is how you move the ball from yourself to another teammate. For a short basic pass, you will turn your foot 90 degrees to the outside and swing your leg so that the inside of your leg makes contact. If you want to send the ball farther, you will swing your leg with more power and aim for the lower half of the ball, to pop it into the air and use the inside of your toes.
    Whether you are receiving a pass that is on the ground or traveling through the air, you will want to square your shoulders to the direction the ball is coming from. If it is on the ground, turn your foot toward the outside as if you were passing, and with your knees bent, cushion the ball so it stops right at your feet. For a ball traveling through the air, you will most likely want to receive the ball with your chest. Stand with your back arched slightly backwards so when the ball hits your chest, it will pop gently into the air and then land at your feet, rather than bounce off out of your control.
    There are a number of unconventional ways to score a goal, but the fundamental way to try to score is by taking a shot. When shooting, your plant foot, follow through and where you contact the ball are all important. You will want to place your non-shooting foot just outside the ball, with your toe pointing at the direction you are aiming to shoot. Swing your leg through the ball, aiming higher on the ball if you want to keep it low or lower on the ball if you want to send it through the air. Follow through with your shooting leg, in a hopping motion that brings your plant foot off the ground, and land on the foot you shot with for the most power.
    Outside of passing, dribbling is the primary method of moving the ball up the field. This works best when you have open field in front of you without pressing defenders. Most players find success using the top of their foot to push the ball along the ground when passing, and the more advanced you get the more parts of your foot you will be able to use when dribbling. The goal of dribbling is to move the ball quickly while keeping the ball close to your body, so that you can make a quick decision to pass, shoot or change direction whenever needed.
    The goalkeeper is the last line of defense, in charge of doing whatever possible to keep the ball out of the net. As goalie, you can use your entire body, including your hands and arms, to stop the ball. The best way for a goalie to catch the ball is to form a “W” with your thumbs and index fingers, with your hands open and palms facing away from you. This will help you catch a ball traveling at a high speed without it going through your hands. The other fundamental skill for goalies is punting, which is how you distribute the ball upfield after making a save. Hold the ball over your dominant foot, and then drop the ball as you swing your foot, making contact and sending the ball through the air. Land on your “shooting” foot on your follow through like you are taking a shot.

  • Negative Health Effects of Football

    Because football in an inherently violent game, there is always the possibility of a player experiencing negative health effects, with increased attention on brain injuries. Since Roger Goodell became NFL commissioner in 2006, there has been a renewed effort to reduce the number of long-term health problems for current and former players, along with enhancing the safety of the game on the field.
    The risk of concussions and concussion-related symptoms might be the biggest concern in football. According to Shankar Vedantam of Slate, researchers at Purdue University found that a high school football player received a blow to the head equal to 300 times the force of gravity and around 15 to 20 times the force of a rear-end car collision. In addition, many head injuries suffered on the football field do not produce concussion symptoms identifiable to trainers on the sideline, according to the same researchers at Purdue, meaning that players may be returning to the field after sustaining a concussion.
    A growing concern in football is chronic traumatic encephalopathy developing in the brains of players who experience repeated blows to the head. CTE is a chronic neurological condition that is believed to lead to depression and dementia among other neurological disorders. According to an article in The Washington Post, one of the leading CTE researchers at Boston University found evidence of CTE in 11 of 11 deceased players¡¯ brains that were studied.
    With the growing number of former players showing evidence of CTE at the time of their death, there is a belief that the repeated head trauma that takes place on the field leads to depression and dementia in former players. In 2011, former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson committed suicide after suffering from depression since his retirement from the NFL. After his death, Duerson was found to have a moderate case of CTE, providing even more evidence that the neurological disorder could lead to health issues in former players. The same fate awaited Junior Seau, celebrated linebacker, in 2012; who was also discovered to have suffered from CTE.
    In addition to neurological risk, the physical nature of the game creates additional health risks for joints and ligaments that are damaged during play. For example, football players could eventually have difficulties with their hips, knees and elbow joints because of repeated contact to those areas during their playing days. In addition, players may have difficulty with flexibility and movement as they grow older.

  • Athletic Tape Vs. Other Tape

    Athletic tape is a type of medical tape used for preventive or supportive taping and bracing. You can use athletic tape safely on most parts of the body. Tape comes in a variety of colors, widths, tensile strengths, materials and shapes, depending on its purpose. Athletic tape assists and supports injured or weak areas of the body, so its materials, function and availability differ from those of traditional tape.
    All-purpose tape and athletic tape have similar basic functions but operate at very different levels. All-purpose tape can be light like scotch tape or strong like duct tape. All-purpose tape works on a variety of surfaces. On the other hand, you apply athletic tape directly to the body to support injured areas. You can use athletic tape to assist in the healing of sprains, strains and contusions; it can offer additional support and/or limit the movement of injured bones and joints.
    Unlike all-purpose tape, athletic tape can follow the contours of the body. The correct use of athletic tape will prevent cuts and blisters to the injured area. Athletic tape also can help prevent future injuries by adding support to a weak joint or muscle. You can use athletic tape in combination with rehabilitation to stabilize an area while allowing for controlled movement to strengthen the injured area. Athletic tape is porous and breathable. You can apply athletic tape in virtually any configuration, depending on the injury.
    Athletic tape can be elastic and nonelastic. Nonelastic white tape usually comes in widths of 1/2 inch, 1 inch, 1-1/2 inches and 2 inches. Non-elastic tape is porous, and you usually use it to support and stabilize injuries to joints and bones. Elastic tape comes in widths ranging from 1/2 inch to 6 inches. Elastic tape offers less support and is more giving than white tape. You often use elastic tape on muscles or over larger areas of the body. Elastic tape allows for greater movement and increased circulation to the area. Elastic tape can be non-stick or self adhesive, and it can come in different tensile strengths. Athletic tape is not usually waterproof, but you can order special tapes for water-based sports.
    You can buy athletic tape online in bulk through sports medicine distributors such as Collins Sports Medicine, Cramer, Meuller or Medco. You also can buy athletic tape in smaller quantities at local sporting good stores and drugstores. Athletic tape is more costly than all-purpose tape. Common brands include Zonas, Cramer, and Johnson and Johnson.
    You should never use athletic tape without first consulting with a health professional. Athletic tape can decrease circulation and could result in further injury. Do not attempt to replace athletic tape with duct tape or another highly adhesive product.

  • Football Goal Post Measurements

    When the kicker on your favorite NFL team misses a game-winning field goal, it’s easy to yell at the TV that such a field goal should be impossible to miss. From some angles, the goal posts look extremely wide — but when you’re on the field with the game in the balance, the opening between the two posts can appear tiny.
    A goal post’s crossbar must sit 10 feet above the ground, according to NFL Rule Book. This is the same height as a basketball hoop, which is why some players, after scoring a touchdown, pretend to dunk the football over the crossbar as if showing off their basketball skills. NFL goal posts must measure 18 feet, 6 inches wide. The posts themselves must extend at least 30 feet above the crossbar.
    In the early days of college football, in the mid- to late-1800s, the goal post was simply composed of two uprights planted in the ground. In 1876, a cross bar was added to give those early goal posts a “H” look. Not long after, goal posts were re-designed yet again to more closely resemble a “Y.” Goal posts also used to be located in the middle of the end zone with the crossbar and posts right along the goal line. In 1974, the goal posts were moved behind the end zones, with the cross bar and uprights on the same plane as the end line at the back of each end zone.
    All NFL goal posts must be painted bright gold. Most college, high school and recreational leagues also have yellow or gold goal posts. In addition, at the top of each goal post, a sturdy ribbon 4 inches wide and 42 inches long must be affixed. The ribbons help the players and coaches gauge the speed and direction of the wind on kicks.
    Goal posts in college also measure 18 feet, 6 inches wide, with crossbars that are 10 feet off the ground. In college and high school, however, the uprights only need to be 10 to 15 high above the crossbar. In addition, high school goal posts measure 23 feet, 4 inches wide, to encourage more scoring with a wider target at which to kick.