Are you Raising a Future Olympian?

Dear MotionWorks Family,

As the seasons change from winter to spring, this month of March definitely brings spring fever all around Wisconsin! Of course, March in Wisconsin brings many WIAA state tournaments, from wrestling to hockey, and boys and girls basketball- an exciting time for sure!

This year our family was able to join in the March Madness Wisconsin style by traveling to Madison to watch our niece Ava play in the WIAA state hockey tournament. Since watching Ava play hockey through the years, I have been so impressed at the level of play that our state hockey associations develop at such an early age! Now three years later, watching Ava and her teammates win the state hockey championship, again, myself and my husband were amazed at the high level of play at girls Division I hockey in the state of Wisconsin. And of course, we were very proud of Ava, as we know how many hockey weekends she and her family have participated in throughout the years to get to that point!

Inspired by Ava’s efforts and the recent Winter Olympics, this month, we are highlighting some of the recent media that has focused on youth sports participation, such as the increasing risk of injury in younger kids involved in sports, more news on the debate between single and multi-sport athletes, and the odds of your kid or grandkid becoming an Olympian. Just for fun, we have included our article on how genetic determination of muscle fiber type can guide sport participation into the type of sports where an individual may achieve higher levels of enjoyment and success.

Why is this important? Many of you on our newsletter list participant are adults who participate in athletics, and many more are parents or grandparents of kids who participate in athletics. I can’t seem to go a week without reading reports of negative attributes of sports on kids, whether increased injury risks, the harms of early specialization, or the risk of concussion with football participation. The debate is real, but probably leaves more questions than answers when it comes to the benefits of sports participation. That, and it really flies in the face of those of us who have participated in athletics throughout our lifetime, and the absolute fun and enjoyment and health benefits we have enjoyed by being physically active.

Ava Kison hockey state championshipAlso, in the month’s newsletter is the lack of social media debate on the influence of endurance athletes and recently even football players on the risk of atrial fibrillation. Why is this important? Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke five-fold. Yet few national media outlets highlight this risk for kids and adults engaged in athletics. Finally, there is more and more debate in the medical field on the role of saturated fat and cholesterol on heart disease and stroke risk. What kind of diet should you follow if you have high cholesterol, or even if you don’t, but you have heart disease? I don’t even think I have answers for you, but I will share details of this debate with you and let you decide for yourself.

I do want to end this letter on a positive note though. Keep in mind that despite the risks involved with being physically active, especially in more high-risk contact sports, the benefits or being physically active in the long run compared to being sedentary cannot be denied. People who walk or do other exercise to elevate their heart rate for 30 minutes, three to five days per week really have found the fountain of youth. These folks push out mortality by 3 to 5 years, have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, and have reduced risk of dementia overall, despite the need to see their physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon a bit more frequently through the years to maintain this level of activity.

So, let this bright sunshine and warmer weather inspire you to get out there and be active! Enjoy your favorite activity, and inform yourselves and others about issues related specifically to your personal health and the health and safety of your kids and grandkids. Understanding how to be and stay healthy lends perspective to the analysis of the risks and rewards of any and all activities, and will help alleviate unnecessary and unfounded fears that may cause you or members of your family to forego activities that you truly enjoy that are beneficial to your health!

Actively Yours,
Dr. Jill Murphy
Owner/Physical Therapist
MotionWorks Physical Therapy