Certified Athletic Trainer | Educator | Motivator
Sandy Krum

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Tibial-Stress-Reaction

Nagging Injuries Series One: Issue One

ANTERIOR SHIN PAIN aka “SHIN SPLINTS” and RESULTANT STRESS FRACTURES

I’m often confronted with injuries that I know are debilitating and simultaneously keep us from performing at Peak Performance day in and day out. Musculoskeletal injury along with associated soreness is the greatest detractor from continued participation.
The NAGGING INJURY Series will focus on one particular injury and provide prevention and treatment tips for each.

SHIN SPLINTS

DEFINITION: Acute pain in the shin and lower leg caused by prolonged running and jumping, typically on hard or uneven surfaces.
Running and jumping, especially when carrying excess weight, can cause a great deal of pain about the knees and in so doing the referred inflammatory stress comes about at the anterior Tibia, hence the term shin splints.
One can experience pain along the inner part of the lower leg, tenderness, swelling, or numbness form swelling and the inability of associated nerves to “fire” freely.
Simple long distance walking, as exhibited and studied in the Army (BOOTS) and its contingent, can lead to this debilitating syndrome. Fractures associated with the Military were termed “Marcher’s Fractures”.
HOW TO DIAGNOSE: A physician will take a thorough history of your condition, inquiring about such factors as distance, surfaces, shoe wear, vitamin usage (D) and possibly diet. He or she will order diagnostic testing to rule out the dreaded Tibial stress fracture, usually through MRI or Tomography. Dr. David Geier, a well respected Sports Medicine Physician, shows significant Hot Spots on the attached radiological views: http://www.drdavidgeier.com/injuries/tibial-stress-fracture/
WHAT TO DO: Acute anterior shin pain is a message that your activity level has been too great, the inflammatory response has also been great, and the result must be a change in workout protocols to allow for the inflammation to subside. If persistent and no change of course is taken, the resulting diagnosis will more than likely be a pre stress fracture or Stress fracture. Change in activity is first and foremost. All pounding activity must be removed from your training, necessitating you to train in alternative modes and removing your body weight from the equation. Box Jumps and aggressive body weight lunges need to be avoided as well.  This may mean exclusively swimming for cardio or simply walking & exercising in shallow knee high water. The water itself will take all stresses off the anterior leg(s). Creativity in water exercise can give you just as great a caloric burn as running on a treadmill. Think Treading in the deep end for 30-second intervals. Obviously, it will take a little longer to reach the intensity level, but the leg is healing while not being stressed. Hard intense kicking is not indicated while treading. Rather, slow quiet leg movement is best.
Use of a night splint is also indicated. Your physician can make this recommendation. In severe cases, your physician may elect to protect you by placing your lower leg in a walking boot, in essence locking down and avoiding any impact or loading to the lower extremity.
Ice is indicated and will greatly help reduce the inflammatory response. I’ve found the use of Ice Massage via ICE cups to work the best, directly attacking the area! Simply fill several Styrofoam cups with water, place in the freezer until frozen, remove from the freezer and peel back the top of the cup. This allows you to have a better grip for your 10 minute ice massage. If this method doesn’t work for you, use a bag of frozen peas or corn. They will work just as well. Just be certain to place a wet towel between the bag and the area to be treated. Treatment time here increases to fifteen minutes. Consult with your personal physician on his or her recommended treatment times.

TIPS ON HOW TO PREVENT ANTERIOR SHIN PAIN

 Simply adjusting the surface you train on can make a huge difference! If you are a street runner or walker, the pavement is almost certainly going to catch up with you. A better solution would be to find a local high school or public park with a TARTAN, spongy surface. This will make a big difference. Checking the bottoms of your shoes for wear patterns is another tip. If you see worn surfaces about the heel regions of your shoes, it’s time to replace them. Similarly, your training shoes should have a stiff rigid sole. Being able to bend your shoe in half usually is indicative of a shoe not driven towards providing maximal support. Once again, a proactive approach to prevention through the use of Ice (Regardless of Activity) is greatly indicated.

HOW WILL I KNOW I AM HEALED?

Physician protocols vary. For me, repeat radiological studies are not always indicated. I often defer to the patients pain level (Use a scale from 0-10, with ten being excruciating pain and 0 being free of symptoms). This reporting method works well here. For discussion, if your pain and soreness are above a level two, you’re not ready to reinvest in that activity. Grade your pain twice daily and mark those findings down somewhere. Re access, along with your physician and Athletic Trainer to come up with the best course of action.

SAK

 

 

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Often I reflect on whom I am accountable to and what steps and procedures I need to accomplish successfully to stay on point. Am I going to be on time for a meeting or appointment? How am I communicating with my peers? What are my exercise habits? Often we rely on others to assist us with this accountability. Today, I propose another format. Lets take a look at what I believe is the groundwork needed to succeed in any model or plan.

 What Is Accountability?

Accountability is viewed as being responsible or giving an explanation of your actions.  But this is only ONE form. I want to turn the focus to you. When you hold yourself 100% responsible for holding YOURSELF accountable: YOUR relationships will flourish, your personal market value will soar, people will respect you more, you’ll be a greater example for others to follow, and your self esteem will grow. Notice here the common word is YOU and now the focus turns inward versus outward or towards others.

I’ve found a great read on accountability and want to share the same with you. The book is titled Little Things Matter Book | 100 Ways To Improve Your Life Today and is written By Todd Smith (littlethingsmatterbook.com) In it, Smith speaks of accountability and breaks the broader definition into 3 forms.

Smith’s Three Forms of Accountability

1.     Your Actions and Choices- These include how you communicate with others, how you spend your time, the consideration you show others, and your exercise and eating habits.

2.    Your Responsibilities-These include returning calls and emails, being on time for your appointments, and doing things you agree to do when you agree to do them.

3.    Your Goals-This could include financial desires, your fitness and health, or your personal family objectives. Accountability is nothing more than the follow through of YOUR Commitments and Responsibilities.

The How To

How are YOU going to change the focus of your Accountability and directly take responsibilities? Here are some of Smiths’ tips: 1.Use a Website to track Food and Exercise 2. Use a paper journal 3. Hire a personal trainer 4.Workout with a friend or partner 5. Sign up for classes 6. Rules need to be established beforehand 7. BE FLEXIBLE TO ALLOW COMPLIANCE.

I love introducing Abraham Maslow’s Philosophy on reaching Self Actualization and this is a good place to refer to Abe. Remember the Pyramid? Take a look at this link and it may shed a new light on where I want you to go with this thought process. I’ve attached a couple quick links for you here :

http://brainblogger.com/2013/01/08/maslows-theory-of-self-actualization-more-or-less-actualized/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs

I propose small steps on your behalf to start to take the onus of accountability off others and direct them on to yourself. Achieving small steps in this transitional phase will enhance your overall well-being.   SAK

Having a morning coffee after a rough night trying to sleep. I could NOT get comfortable and my mind continued to race. It was almost as if it was time to count sheep but every time I started to count , I had to reposition myself and start again at number one.  How many of you have had racing minds and were unable to sleep? I’m sure several of you have your hands up.  For me, this was an unusual evening.  I usually let my mind wander a little and then I’m gone.  Three days without going for a run probably has a lot to do with it.

What are your triggers for poor sleep? Here are some key triggers that I feel precipitate unhealthy sleep patterns:

wine_and_glassLate Night Eating and Drinking Alcohol send poor messages to the body. The digestive system starts to work overtime and the alcohol does not allow for restful sleep cycles. The average American sleeps 7.5 to 8 hours per night according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. * The alcohol may induce a faster TO SLEEP time but the quality of the rest turns out to be poor. Interruptions occur cycle after cycle and in the end the total slow wave sleep (SWS) and REM periods are shortened.

In regards to food, our bodies start the digestive process as soon as the food hits our mouths. Eating late at night is not a NO NO as it was once thought. The key is which foods are more ideal prior to sleep. Late night snacks are ideal if they are in the 100-200 kcal range. (Ex: ¼ cup baked popcorn). Watch your hunger cues, be mindful to not attempt to sleep on a rumbling stomach as this will deplete your AM energy stores and more than likely induce greater kcal intake later in the day.

CPAPNot Using a CPAP (CONTINUOUS POSITIVE AIRWAY PRESSURE)? A CPAP is used best to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The mild pressure from the machine will prevent your airway from collapsing and becoming blocked.   Have you had a sleep study done to determine the quality of your sleep?  An apnea is described as a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of very low breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from at least ten seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Are you getting full oxygenation during the same? The only way you can get the restful sleep indicated is with the assistance of a CPAP sleeping device. A mask covers the nose and mouth and is connected to the machine via a plastic encased hose. Based on your results from the study, pressure levels are set. Most machines now have self setting sensors. Continuous monitoring with a trained Sleep Specialist will keep you on point and ensure quality oxygenation throughout the entire rest period. Similarly, your energy levels will increase exponentially if indeed you’re compliant!

Family or Personal Conflict often lead to sleep pattern disruption. Anxiety and depression are the leading causes here and the best avenue to resolving these issues is by addressing them with your physician and or therapist. All involved parties should be part of this counseling process and your physician will advise the best ways to incorporate all parties. Avoiding the conflict is not a choice!

medicationMedication Interactions and Increased Caffeination can also cause sleep disruption as well. If taking new medications, consult with your physician if your sleep is interrupted by the same. Caffeine based drinks prior to sleep will cause you to lessen your sleep time, reduce SWS time,  and increase the time needed to get to sleep. The message here is to learn your individual Caffeine Half-Life…the time it takes our body to rid the caffeine. Is it the normal 3-7 hours or are your levels skewed?  Use non caffeinated beverages as well, such as a warm lemon water.

The exercise portion of the equation is a constant. For me personally, this is what q’d my poor restless sleep. Respect the need for quality sleep! The bottom line here is our bodies need proper rest to replenish and repair! To bring your “A” game every day, your body needs plentiful restful sleep.

SAK

REFERENCES:

http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa41.htm

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/things-eat-before-bed-4256.html

http://sciblogs.co.nz/sleep-on-it/2011/03/11/caffeine-affects-your-sleep-no-ifs-no-buts/

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CATA

California Assembly Bill 864

I have enjoyed an over 25 year career in athletic training and throughout my practice I have run into well-intentioned questions from clients and others about the distinctions between my job and other professions with similar titles or practice arenas.

With important legislation related to the athletic training profession pending in Sacramento that would finally bring California in line with 48 other states, I thought this was a great opportunity to share a bit about the profession, how it is regulated, the role athletic trainers (ATs) play in the lives of Californians (see CATA) and why this legislation is so important to me personally.

Often confused with fitness/personal trainers, physical therapists and other health and wellness professionals, the role of an athletic trainer is set apart through distinctions including education, training and responsibilities.  I could not be prouder to be an athletic trainer, nor more pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with other professionals, like personal trainers, physical therapists, doctors and nurses, who share my profound commitment to the health and wellbeing of others.  As an AT, I am part of a continuum of care whose structure promotes the best performance and quality of life for clients. That said, it is important to note that each of us in this continuum has a different role and purpose, and vital that each are regulated.

For instance personal trainers primarily help people become and stay physically fit. They work in gyms and health clubs, resorts, universities, workplaces, clients’ homes and, as I know well, some even work on television.  Physical therapists, on the other hand, have their role in helping injured or sick people improve their movement and manage their pain.  Both of these are great roles, but certainly different from the work of an AT.

In basic terms, ATs are allied health professionals who work with physically active individuals of all types to prevent harm, evaluate and recognize injury and stress, provide first aid/emergency care, work in rehabilitation and conditioning of injured individuals and supply guidance and education on issues related to injury and other conditions. We work in a myriad of settings, including secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional sports, sports medicine clinics, hospitals, the military, industrial and commercial entities. In essence, ATs are uniquely qualified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists who provide acute injury treatment, a continuum of care from injury and illness prevention and return-to-activity clearance for athletes and other physically active individuals.  With more than 50 percent of ATs working outside of sports fields, it is  likely that your life is, or will be  touched by the work of an athletic trainer on a regular basis, whether you are an athlete or not.

Despite the critical role Certified Athletic Trainers play in the safety of athletes and physically active people, California is one of only two states in the country that does not regulate Athletic Trainers. Having significant experience working with unlicensed trainers in a career spanning professional sports to TV, I know firsthand many of the ways that this has serious consequences to our safety.

The bottom line is that athletic training is a profession that is regulated by 48 states, recognized by multiple governmental and healthcare agencies as a specific healthcare profession and which has a single nationally accredited education and certification process. Right now in California, the practice of athletic training is completely unregulated, so anyone is free to call themselves an athletic trainer, regardless of education or training.

What makes the matter even worse is that the public has no ability to register complaints nor can the state investigate and sanction unsafe or unethical providers. AB 864 will provide assurance of minimum standards of competence of practitioners and will allow those that are practicing illegally, unsafely or unethically to be sanctioned.  Who in their right mind would expect any less oversight of a healthcare professional?

That is why I am so disillusioned by opponents of this bill who mischaracterize or outright lie about the bill, its purpose and its content.

Let’s separate the AB 864 facts from the unfair lies.

The first falsehood I have heard from detractors is that the bill is an attempt to expand an Athletic Trainer’s scope of practice, create a new profession or mandate insurance carriers and Medicare for reimbursement. I have done research, asked those in the know and verified with total certainty that this is not true.  Nothing in this bill allows for billing or reimbursement. Insurance companies – not state laws – decide who gets reimbursed. Furthermore, Medicare does not allow for reimbursing rehabilitation services of Athletic Trainers while they work in a physician’s office. AB 864 will not change this, nor is it even trying to do so.

Moreover, the idea that a new profession would be created or that Athletic Trainers would be in a legal position to diagnose or practice medicine is totally, completely and 100 percent false. Oversight of cases and patient referrals will always be the job of doctors – they are the most qualified to undertake those decisions.

Others claim that efforts are underway to replace physical therapists with Athletic Trainers in clinics, essentially stealing the physical therapists’ long-accepted roles. This idea is completely ridiculous. Athletic trainers can never replace physical therapists or their expertise.  We can, however, augment the care to specific populations alongside physical therapists, so there would be no reason or motivation to attempt to take jobs from other providers.

Let me tell you in the simplest terms what this bill does.  It addresses the licensing of Athletic Trainers by regulating a healthcare profession that is currently practicing but still unregulated in this state. Passage of AB 864 would ensure that those who serve as athletic trainers have the proper education and certification. AB 864 simply seeks to prevent unqualified healthcare professionals from practicing and protect Californians through regulations of practicing healthcare professionals. I have heard many other ATs with the same message as mine: athletic training professionals firmly believe in the continuity and integrity of care; we understand that this often means a variety of providers are required to give these services. The playing field is big enough for all professionals to play a role in offering athletes and other active individuals the best care, education and quality of life possible.

As if the regulation of health care providers to assure the highest standards were not enough, another feature of AB 864 is that the bill is cost neutral, meaning it will cost taxpayers nothing. Athletic Trainers will pay for their own licensure. Additionally, it is worth noting that Athletic Trainers who work in industry, military and with police and firemen save their employers or city government’s workman’s compensation costs.

With so much to gain and so much at stake, I really don’t see how the detractors have gotten any traction.  But the fact is that they have.  Won’t you join me in setting the record straight on the important role athletic trainers play in our state and remind those opposed that assuring the competency of ATs matters as much as the assurances presented by any other professional currently regulated in the state?

My past has aptly demonstrated the profound need for this legislation and my future prospects, and those of all active individuals in the state, depends on the genuine understanding of what the bill does and does not do and the subsequent affirmation that safety, health and common sense demands passage of AB 864.

- Sandy Krum ATC/L

 

Weigh In at Doctor
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Medical App

Hope all finds you well! I was thinking about the upcoming season and what it takes to actually make it on to the Biggest Loser reality television show. For all the contestant hopefuls, the single wish I have for each of these folks is that they  have an established rapport with a physician in each of their respective home towns and cities. How many of you have not been to the doctor in ages? The questions I pose to you for today’s writing is, “ Do you have a physician and when is the last time you paid him or her a visit?”

I know for most of us, Health Care costs are through the ceiling. Health Insurance premiums are skyrocketing when overall preventative measures are declining. The affordability of reaching out to a doctor for preventative care is mind boggling alone.

Professionally , I have always urged my athletes and private clients to establish a relationship with their own personal physician. I want them taking a proactive approach to their medical care and not a reactive one.

How often should I see my physician? There really is not an exact answer to this but there are varied opinions, and two respected physicians from The Mayo Clinic came up with the following for Healthy individuals: internal physician and geriatrician Kevin Fleming, M.D. and gynecologist Petra Casey, M.D., made it easy for you. Here are their recommendations for how often to have the screenings you need most. Annually you should have the following evaluated:

weight, blood pressure, a dental exam, a skin exam, STD/STI testing, and a Mammogram (for women 40+). A fasting blood panel should be standard to identify cholesterol and other markers as well as a glucose tolerance test to determine blood sugar values.  Similarly for women , a PAP SMEAR is indicated every three years (every five years if HPV contesting is used). For men over 40 , annual prostate exams are indicated.

Besides the normal screens your doctor will perform, the evaluation time can also be spent dealing with counseling matters, family planning, STD prevention, quitting alcohol or tobacco use, and Nutrition and Weight loss. The simple evaluation can be the force that drives you to bettering your health.

For those of you looking to start or restart an exercise routine, the MD eval is a must. This is the way you are going to learn about your current cardiovascular fitness, your blood pressure, your blood lab values, and your past or current medication use. It is a time to discuss your goals and have your medical support TEAM in place. When it comes to the doctor patient relationship, I stress honesty and openness. I stress the direct route versus beating around the subject and stress a level of comfort in your ability to understand your personal findings.

The wellness package you are trying to achieve starts with the building of this ever important support system. Do you have the right physician for you? Robert Wergin, MD, a practicing family physician in Milford, Nebraska, and member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians says, “It’s about establishing a relationship with someone who cares about, and can help you with, your health.” You may not need to see a doctor when you’re healthy, but when you come down with a nasty bug or mysterious ache, you’ll be glad to have someone with a knowledge of your medical history to turn to. Your relationship with your primary care physician, if well established, can provide peace of mind when you’re not feeling your best.

As a new season approaches , these are some of the values I will be sharing with the contestant hopefuls. Although not all of the finalists we evaluate will make it onto the show, I know we can say we have done an exhaustive battery of tests on each of these people and hopefully identified any areas of concern that need to and can be addressed.

 

References: Sizensky, Vera: “Do You Really Need an Annual Checkup?”. Women’s Health, Oct. 2012

 

Posture:

My posture has been poor as of late. Whether it’s lying on the couch reading my tablet or slouching over to see the screen on my laptop. I know I need to concentrate more and more each day on keeping my shoulders back, on keeping my chin up, and sticking out my chest. I’ve gotten too lazy and haven’t really been incorporating a balanced BACK ATTACK.

What does our posture say about us? This is a simple concept but one that is so often overlooked when it comes to our overall wellness and often deters from our ability to stay on THE HIGHWAY.

A recent Human Kinetics (HK) publication spoke of posture in two forms. They discuss both the physical attributes of good posture but also the downfalls of a mismanaged psyche and how the same can lead to postural defect.  They state, “Good posture requires a person to maintain the alignment of certain body parts; poor posture is often acknowledged as a cause of musculoskeletal pain, joint restriction, or general discomfort. When used in the context of therapy, athletic training, physiotherapy, massage therapy, osteopathy or chiropractic, for example the term posture more precisely describes the relationships among various parts of the body, their anatomical arrangement and how well they do or do not fit together…”  Adding, “Of course, the postures we assume provide clues to not only the condition of our bodies; traumas and injuries old and new, and mild or more serious pathologies.  It’s also how we feel about ourselves; our confidence (or lack of it), how much energy we have (or are lacking), how enthusiastic (or unenthusiastic) we feel, or whether we feel certain and relaxed (or anxious and tense). Intriguingly, we all almost always adopt the same postures in response to the same emotions.”

To repeat, Kyphosis describes the forward rounding of the shoulders, a position often brought on by weakness or imbalance in thoracic spines musculature as well as fatigue in keeping these muscles engaged and firing. Genu Valgus is also a condition brought on by weak hip musculature, causing the hip and pelvis to collapse and forcing the knees into a Knock Knee position.

I constantly preach the latter portion, the “how do we feel about ourselves” and “how does this lead to our postural defects?” Are we engaging at all times through our daily interactions with others or are we defensive? Watching simple non-verbal Q’s of someone’s body language can often lead to a better understanding of that persons make up. When speaking with others, are my arms crossed in front, guarding the walls that have been built over the years? What am I hiding? I propose a more engaging approach: Head and neck high, chest out, hands to the side in a neutral position and relaxed versus uptight. THE EYES ARE ON THE ROAD!

Are we confident in ourselves and are others reading those same non-verbal Q’s we emit? Do we like the message we are sending? How can we /I work on this?

I propose daily practice sessions to start to concentrate on our postures. Practice 5-10 minutes per day and attempt to be cognizant throughout the day. Your practice session involves looking in the mirror at your posture, shoulder positioning, leg stance, and your facial expression. Can I improve in my engaging skills? Use this practice session to assist you.

For those of you who have worked with me, you know how much emphasis I place on how you carry yourselves and how engaged I expect you to become. I stress the importance of walking tall and proud with your shoulders back and chest and core engaged. I stress free and easy breathing. During this exercise, think deeply about the walls you may have put up and address them! Is it necessary for me to be expending so much energy to retain these walls? Which ones do I want to start to work on and dismantle? An additional exercise could simply be observing others throughout your day and see what messages these people may be sending!

During Your Workout

Are you looking down on the treadmill versus standing tall and looking onto the horizon? Is your chest out and are your breathing patterns relaxed? Are there similarities to a top-performing car? You bet! I call this “THE ALIGNMENT”. A Poor alignment predisposes you to injury and breakdown. To stay on the HIGHWAY of HEALTH, I propose to you to incorporate these simple daily exercises that will improve your chances of staying aligned and reduce the probability of system breakdown.

Krum’s Keys:

  1. Relaxed Breathing and Facial Muscles
  2. Engage Abdominals / Core
  3. Proper Leg Stance
  4. Shoulders Back
  5. Equal Balance When Weight Training (Multi Planes)

 

Lastly, I want to throw out a TIP. If you are able, have someone you know film your whole running session, or a good five to ten minute session. This person could be a loved one, friend, coworker, or a Certified Athletic Trainer (NATA.ORG). Have them film you from various angles and show everything from your stride, to your hand motion, to your head and neck movement.  Slowly review your tape and write notes on the items you see that need addressing. Make subtle changes and visually see yourself as you do each subsequent workout. Incorporate the changes over a period of time, all the while working on correcting the same. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, ask the advice of a Certified Athletic Trainer (NATABOC) near you. I’m sure they would love to help. After several weeks of practice, re-film a session and notice the changes.

Drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing, love to hear from you.

 

All the best until next time, Sandy

REFERENCES: Johnson, Jane POSTURAL ASSESSMENT pp 1-176. 2012. Human Kinetics

 

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The box of curveballs and the key to the batter’s box. That’s what started my job as clubhouse helper, then batboy, for the visiting teams at Wrigley. I found my passion early!

Eleven or twelve years old and I had a set of keys to get in and out of Wrigley as I please. Back then there was only one guard, and it took everything and anything to keep him awake all night. This was the old Pinkerton guard company. The guy would make his rounds every so often and when he was drunk or tired and I was up and about I would sometimes make the rounds on my own. It was the coolest thing, me walking with this encased pc of equipment that I could key in to various locations around the park. Ticket office, check. Concessions areas, check! Up the ramps to the press box, done. Out to the bleachers, done. Visiting and home clubhouses, done.  Front office, done. Oh those smells of the ballpark were priceless.

Sometimes I would have dinner with the guy, or even order from Pat’s Pizza.

What a trip. Just me and the guy in the chair at Clark and Addison. He was usually asleep at the rickety warn down pass gate. I loved the guy so, as he was one of the main reasons I got access to the park every day.

There was Gene the guard, Ron the clubhouse attendant, Gary and his wonderful loving father Bill, Dennis the clubhouse assistant, and me.  We would handle everything from unpacking bags to lining up bat bags, doing player laundry and uniforms. There were so many towels, the Four Seasons housekeeping department would have a hard time keeping up. And the industrial dryer that was big enough for several players to get in and take a spin.

And we would feed them. Rarely did a guy get up at the hotel in Chicago and go to the coffee shop or even better yet, order room service. The big shot guys, of course. The rest of the team including coaches and athletic trainers needed to eat, especially with such early arrivals.

Remember, they were all day games back then. So the clubhouse became the player’s restaurant as well. Eggs made to order, no problem. Food takeout, Money!

Every morning started with a grocery run: Two dozen donuts, three gallons of milk, two loaves of bread and some eggs! And don’t forget the newspapers at the El.

Thank G-d for YumYum donut shop in the parking lot. I made a lot of money running back and forth to YY. Three double cheeseburgers, fries, a malt, NLT! Fred and his ladies knew the food was for the players so they would let me throw the burgers on the grill and help them wrap the order. Lines were long at the favorite spot, especially for the glazed, and I just walked right up to the grill and threw my orders on. This led to huge tips as I could be back in no time just to repeat it. Rain delays were the best…

And the reason I title this the box of curveballs and keys to the batter’s box?

Those are the two things I was on a constant running search for days… (until I figured that I was on a wild goose chase…)

“Hey Sandy, can you go find the “box of curveballs” or, “Sandy go to the front office and get the keys to the batter’s box. ”  Lol. Growing up fast @ Wrigley.

 

 

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The Masters: Augusta, Ga.

I’m thrilled to just have had the opportunity to watch a practice round @ Augusta in preparation for this week’s Masters tournament. Actually, Corporate and I just attended one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. We made the Southerly jaunt along with hundreds of thousands. The old saying is practice makes perfect, hence my desire to see a practice round. Throughout my years in athletic training rooms and clubhouses around the world, one message has never changed:  Practice like you play and you’ll play like you practice!

FOCUS

Focus is the intensity expected every minute you are on that piece of cardio equipment or running trail attacking your workout. When at the gym, there may be several televisions mounted from the ceiling in front of you, one usually with sports and the other showing mindless news from a distant land. Yes, there’s a clicker available, but only for those who are not focused and are there for the wrong reasons. You DID NOT come here to watch TV! For me, it’s hard enough to stay focused on my breathing, my GAIT, my stride length, my posture, and everything else I need to concentrate on to make this the best workout without these distractions.

This morning’s LA TIMES was so hard to read without my glasses. I usually read the local paper first thing and then further attack anything that sparks my interest via the web and other media outlets. I know the newsprint and format are of legit quality and the lighting in my apartment is cool. The problem I may be having you ask? Auspiciously, perhaps with a little more FOCUS, I can fix this with a quick visit to either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. This is an opportune time to introduce you to Dr. Michael Peters of Raleigh, North Carolina. Mike and I worked together while in baseball at AA Zebulon. He was instrumental in making our championship team click, especially when it came to the players we had wearing contact lenses. We really were fortunate to have Mike available, especially with his interest in sports vision and ability to translate that passion into helping our hitters see the ball to the BEST of their ability, day and night! Easier said than done, but perfected by Peters. He currently oversees care of the NHL’s Carolina Panthers.

To give you an idea, in his latest book, ‘See to Play’, eminent optometrist Michael Peters, addresses every aspect of this vital component of elite athletics. Included in his writing are in-depth discussions of all facets of vision accompanied by myriad of exercises to help athletes hone and condition peripheral vision, acuity, speed of focus, eye-hand-body coordination, and more. His techniques also help the older veteran athlete play young and the weekend warrior gain the edge! Constructed for athletes of all ages, this essential book will truly enhance you or your child athlete’s ability to see to play! I really enjoyed the read and think there’s something for everyone here!

EXERCISE AND INTENSITY

For me, workouts are planned out by writing an exercise journal daily. With this method, goals are easily attainable. It’s knowing exactly what to accomplish and wanting to be as FOCUSED on the activity as possible, not distracted by something that may inhibit or slow my progress. For those using headphones for the encouraging music, rock on dudes! For those watching those monitors, WRONG! ASK yourself if these media sources are having a positive or negative influence on your training and ability to reach the goal you set out to conquer!

Your focus should be on getting your workout in, perhaps getting to the gym, working out with the utmost intensity for the 90 minutes, and getting out! Are you putting 110% into your training? Is your intensity as great as you want it to be? Are there any distractions in front of you or in your ear that are not allowing you to stay focused?  Stop the distractions, get into the zone, and get the most out of today’s session!

BACK TO AUGUSTA

Focus is just as important on the golf course as the best golfers in the world compete. Each of these athletes is focused, not only on their conditioning and workouts, but also in their approach to their initial tee shot, fairway play, and green play. After all, is the goal not to wear the famed Green Jacket? Do you have the same desire for that jacket?

Earlier this week I spoke with John Adam, an ATC and strength/conditioning coach for the PGA Tour and currently at The 2013 Masters. We were introduced many years ago. He comes from the same baseball class as Garafolo, Starr, Monohan, Gieselman,  Buhler, Pursley, Letendre , Spicuza, Mayol and the rest of the athletic training All Stars. The old school gang, if I may. John was another of the fine mentors that played an integral part on my journey as an apprentice and up and comer. “Pristine, well-manicured hedging, and something like ‘Disneyland’ Special!” These are the descriptors Adam’s used to describe the location all ‘GOLF EYES’ will be on for the weekend to come. I have to agree and also throw compliments to the fine staff @ Augusta. What a first class operation! John worked many seasons in MLB, most notably with the Milwaukee Brewers alongside Bob Euker, Robin Yount, Dale Sveum, and who could forget Ben Ogilvie. Euker would often say, “It’s a wonderful day for GOLF!”

John Adam: you taught me so much along the way and I am grateful to you for treating me with the upmost respect from the minute I was introduced to you as a young minor league Athletic Trainer. For this, I say Thank You! Best wishes to you and Biggie (Kent Biggerstaff – same position with the Seniors Champions Tour) as you both continue to keep the finest golfers in the world focused on both the PGA TOUR and SENIORS CHAMPIONS TOUR. Enjoy Augusta and all the best my friends!

For now, I sign off by saying stay FOCUSED on your workout intensity, FOCUS on your eye exercises, and remain focused on that Green Jacket!

Until next time, Best! Sandy

PS: Stay tuned…your introduction to “The Highway” is coming soon and it’s something very special.

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Opening Day…

Garages and attics are busy places this time of the year.  Seems everyone is doing some sort of spring cleaning, whether it be in the garage, inside the house, or even at the office.  First and foremost has to be the search for the mitt and league ball.  Opening Day is just arriving and parents and children from coast to coast will be on the search for their BASEBALL GLOVES. I know mine is on the desk at the office, always on the ready.

I really haven’t had the need to condition my Rawlings Special.  It still has great shape and is full of life.  It also still has that baseball glove smell.

Remember the days of old when mom and dad bought you your first glove?  You rushed home with a couple baseballs and started breaking in the darn thing.  Seems it took forever to get any sense of a pocket.  It took longer to get the ends on the fingertips to ‘curve in’ as we know and wanted them to do ever so badly.  I even remember tying my glove with a sanni sock ever so tight, baseballs in place in the pocket, and buried the whole contraption under the water in our filled wash sink in the laundry room.  I would let it soak overnight, only to take it outside to dry in the mild spring air and then start mashing it over and over again with the end of a bat.

As a kid, I always took my glove with me to opening day.  It was some sort of ritual and simply was the cool thing to do.  I would never know if a foul ball would come my way as I was walking the concourses at Wrigley, always trying to find the one unoccupied seat and the section where there were no Andy Frain Ushers to give you THAT evil look.  Sometimes, the flying balls would make their way down the steps onto the concourse after several people made a failed attempt.  Oh, Wrigley.

I always prepped Mom and Dad as the weeks and days approached, just so I could have them on the ready to write that note to my teachers: “Dear Ms. Opening Day Teacher, Sandy was absent yesterday as he developed (fill in the blank) that just wouldn’t go away.  We felt it best to monitor this from home.  Please provide Sandy with any missed homework or needed materials so he may catch up on his work. Sincerely, Mr. and Mrs. Krum.”  I wonder how many parents will be writing that same kind of note this week.  Ya know …wink!

Opening Day meant smelling the concession stands getting readied, the Smokie Links grilling on the grill, the soda and beer guys filling their trays and making quick change from the dispenser on their belts, the pizza man walking around hawking an empty box he was waving.  It meant I could hear the organ and watch the scoreboard operators change the numbers every time a run was scored.  It meant I could just be among people who loved the game of baseball as much as I did.  It meant I could sing twice for sure with an anthem and take me out to the ball game.  It meant I could tune to 720am on my transistor radio and listen to some fine play by play.  I just had to save enough change to take the EL home, along with a transfer of course.

I know I’m looking forward to the Opening Day.  Why, you ask?  Cause its root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t win it’s a shame.  For its one, two, three strikes you’re out at the ol ball game!

Finally, The Show…

My most incredible experience at Wrigley happened on Opening Day back in 2001…

Ahhh, that Opening Day at Wrigley Field…I could smell the fresh cut grass, still those same Smokie Links cooking, popcorn popping, and the electricity was buzzing, like when you rub a balloon on your hair.  The gates open for the start of the 2001 home season and fans flocked to assume their position in the bleachers.  Finally, after grabbing their hotdog and beverage, they picked that spot to watch the pre-game.  All set with their gloves ready, they waited eagerly for that crack of the bat in hopes of catching the BP home run ball.  There I was, first game as a Chicago Cub Athletic Trainer, taped into an old rusty grocery cart that migrated down from the local Jewel.  Hockey mask strapped on, feet dangling and placed ever so perfectly in left-center field for batting practice.  Even my college roommate was amongst them. “Krummie, is that you?”…he shouted.  The only thing I could think of was, “Please ball, don’t come my way!”  Crack after crack, balls launched from the pine bats like missiles.  One after another just missing.  For the player at the plate, it was like when you’re hitting golf balls at the driving range and the cart is out there picking up balls – aim…fire…“DAMN, missed again!”  Players couldn’t wait to get their turn…”come on, let me in there!”  It felt like a whole game had passed, when finally I was rescued by the grounds crew as they began to ready the field with fresh chalk.  “Welcome to the Show, Kid!”

All the Best – Athletic Trainers

Looking back, it was an incredible run with the Chicago Cubs and professional baseball.  As ballparks open across this great land, I can’t help but think of the Athletic Trainers and Medical Teams for each of the 30 clubs.  Long, exhausting days ahead for these folks. What tremendous care each and every one of these individuals provide on a daily basis.  The bottom line is these ATC’s keep your favorite players healthy and functional from Opening Day until the final out of the World Series.  Many of these folks have years of education and practice honing their skills. They are the best of the best and personally take themselves out of the equation for the 162 game campaign. Incredible! Kudos to my fellow PBATS members and wishing each of them the best for the season!

Enjoy the season everyone! I know I will!

“Let’s play two!” – Ernie Banks

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     As the lights just dimmed on Season 14, I can’t give enough credit to all of the great transformations I just witnessed.  It was really a special evening to see all of you walking with that air of confidence and strutting with your chests out proud (AND RIGHTFULLY SO).  You all remember that sense of accomplishment, just hoping someone you hadn’t seen in a while noticed the new you!  Realizing the work you just put in paid off!  Realizing this is the happiest you’ve been in a long, long time!  Realizing your dreams!  Those of you who returned to welcome your new family members looked just as proud and full of love.  What a healthy environment, right?

     The questions I pose today to all of you to ask yourselves: “ How am I going to keep that battery charged and walk with that GAIT Sandy spoke of often on the ranch? “  Take a moment today to reflect momentarily on the past and ask “what is on my agenda to keep my light bulb lit and shining at its optimal wattage?”  True, some of you need to replace a bulb but once the bulb is in the fixture, know that you all have the tools and knowledge to keep that bulb burning for a long time…with full glare!!!

     “How do I know if my bulb is functioning at its peek level?” “Am I journaling?” “Am I counting calories?” “Am I weighing my foods?” “Am I planning meals for the week for myself and loved ones?” “Am I eating with a plan as proposed by H and Forberg?” “Am I snacking correctly?” “Am I incorporating the prescribed workout time to stay at maintenance?” “AM and PM?” “What am I doing at work to help keep myself functional and active?” “Can I be doing more?” “Am I treating my injuries and am I working to tolerance with the same?” “Am I making excuses ?”

     If you are on point, tremendous!!!! If your bulb needs replacing or if there is a short in the wire, well its time to change the darn thing!!!  Today is the day to do just that!  And if you’re not sure where the closest hardware store is or what wattage you need, please reach out to me and know that I will do my best to lead you.  Wishing you all continued success and love.

sak