December 9, 2008 [Volume 3, Issue 1]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Common Knee Injuries, Uncommon Sense
The ABCs of Nutrition
Welcome to Boot Camp

Common Knee Injuries, Uncommon Sense

The growth of organized amateur sports over the past 30 years has spawned an unexpected and unwanted increase in sports-related injuries. Many young athletes suffer sports-related injuries that can turn into lifelong problems.

To learn why our knees are injured so frequently, it's important to know how the knee works. The knee joint is composed of four bones: the femur, the tibia, the fibula and the patella. Cartilage covers the joint and provides a smooth, lubricated gliding surface so the knee can move. The shape of the knee joint is stable, but to function properly, the ligaments have to be in good shape, too! Those ligaments include the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

While the ACL works as the main stabilizer when the knee is bent, the PCL works as the main stabilizer when the knee is extended. The collateral ligaments are used when you move side to side. The medial and lateral menisci are located within the joint and act as "shock absorbers" and also influence knee stability. The most commonly injured parts of the knee are the ACL and the medial meniscus. Tears of the meniscus usually take place during twisting, pivoting, or decelerating movements, or as a result of direct impact.

A vast majority of people, young and old, excessively pronate. This means that when the foot hits the ground, it flattens out or unlocks, rolling inward and creating a twisting stress up the leg and into the knee. These twisting stresses do three things to the knees: stretch the ACL, stretch and twist the medial meniscus, and inhibit contraction of the quadriceps muscle.

Common sense tells us to prevent the excessive damaging motions by supporting the foundational structures (your feet) so they function within the functional range of motion. Many chiropractors now evaluate the quality of the arches of the feet. If the arches aren't supporting the legs and pelvis sufficiently, it can create stresses that lead to injury or joint wear and tear. It's just like the foundation of your house; if it settles too much, it creates stress in other parts of the structure.

Take a proactive step to avoiding injuries and preserving the health of your knees, hips and spine. After all, you know what they say about "an ounce of prevention." Ask your doctor for a thorough foot evaluation, particularly if you're experiencing knee pain or participate in activities that put you at risk for a knee injury.

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The ABCs of Nutrition

Most parents recognize the importance of feeding their children nutritious foods. The problem is that in most schools, cafeteria food just doesn't cut it, and most parents don't exactly pack the ideal foods for their children to take to school every day. Between a busy family schedule, the picky eating habits of your children, and the ever-increasing array of unhealthy products marketed specifically to children, you may be losing the battle to provide your children with sound nutrition. Here are a few easy suggestions on how to improve their daily diet at school and at home.

Sandwich Suggestions: Too many parents combine nutrient-deficient white bread with something equally as unhealthy; peanut butter (most brands contain hydrogenated oil) and jelly (which often contains processed sugar), processed meats (almost all of which are filled with chemicals) and cheeses (often a processed food instead of the real thing). A better sandwich suggestion includes whole-grain bread, natural almond butter and unsweetened jelly, baked or roasted meats, and sliced vegetables (cucumbers, red peppers, etc.).

Pack It Right: Part of putting together a healthy packed lunch is having the right storage containers. Be sure to use an insulated lunch box that will hold up to four small food containers and a thermos.

Easy Entrées: Cubes of baked chicken, turkey or tofu are all great sources of protein that can be packed in a small lunch container. Limit processed meats (some children develop allergies, headaches and behavioral problems from the chemicals in processed meats) and plan ahead when making dinner. Leftovers can be cut into bite-sized pieces and eaten as finger food.

Healthy Sides: One of the side dishes we need to encourage kids to enjoy is green vegetables (snap peas, broccoli, zucchini slices, etc). Fruit is also a great side dish, but try to avoid fruit cups and processed roll-ups. Your child's lunch will be much healthier if it includes sliced or chopped organic fruit topped with shredded coconut, raisins or raw nuts instead of processed snacks.

Create a Menu: Your children know better than you do what they're going to want for lunch, so it's important to let them participate actively in the selection and preparation of their lunches. When children are included in the process, they are more likely to finish what they started.

It's important to remember you have to be your child's advocate when it comes to eating healthier lunches. If we let this meal go to the "waste side," we are not only losing another opportunity for children to grow up healthy with the necessary building blocks, but also missing the opportunity to teach them that each meal counts and can have great taste appeal.

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Welcome to Boot Camp

"Boot camps" have become increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts in search of a more rugged approach to their exercise routines. These challenging workouts incorporate a series of high-intensity aerobic and strength-training exercises performed one after the other. And we do mean one after the other!

How effective are boot camps? A recent study from the American Council of Exercise (ACE) and conducted by the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, suggests that boot camp-style workouts compare favorably to other rigorous activities such as spin classes or cardio-kickboxing classes. According to the study, boot camp cardio enhances aerobic capacity, improves muscle fitness and promotes significant calorie burning – sometimes up to 30 percent of your daily calorie intake.

Boot camp-style workouts provide a full-body workout without having to stock your closet with fancy gizmos. Most of the routines include military-style moves that only require balance, endurance and a good pair of shoes. So if you're looking for a fun new workout (or if you're feeling guilty about those extra servings of sweet-potato pie this holiday season), sign up for a boot camp class in your area or pick up an instructional video for at-home use. Your doctor can give you more information about the best ways to burn fat and get in shape.

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The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. MPA Media is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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