As residents of Louisiana, we are no strangers to the summer's blistering sun. I use the word blistering in reference to the heat, but blistering can also be used to describe certain physical symptoms of damage done to the skin that can ultimately lead to cancer.

Just recently, Sports Illustrated senior writer Tim Layden published his story in The New York Times about the rehabilitation he endured and subsequent surgeries he received after learning about a tumor caused by years of adolescent neglect in regards to skin protection.

The ability to be able to shift direction rapidly is vital for any athlete involved in sports such as football, soccer and basketball, which use sprinting or cutting movements. A very important consideration is the selection of the athlete's shoes when performing such change of direction movements. The right fit is of the utmost necessity to ensure safety, whereas the wrong shoe (cleat) may ultimately increase the athlete's risk for injury.

Spiked or cleated shoes are normally capable of two types of traction. 1) Forward traction: sticking to the ground while moving forward, and 2) Rotational traction: sticking to the ground while moving sideways or while shifting in direction. More traction leads to decreased risk in player safety, as determined in a 2009 study in which a soccer team's shoes were collected and the spikes were either shaved halfway or shaved completely (flat shoes — no traction). Players were shown to be "significantly slower moving forwards and sideways," when the shoes possessed less traction (shaved halfway down of flat).

Every year between 250,000 and 300,000 athletes suffer a tear or more complicated injury involving the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament, found in the knee). You hear about it all of the time in sports. Just last year 11 NFL players saw their season end early due to this injury.

The statistics are staggering for those who tear the ACL, and it seems the complications that arise are not as easily solved after surgery. In fact, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, "of 400,000 ACL reconstructions, up to five percent risk re-injury, up to 45 percent fail to return to their pre-injury sport level, and up to 80 to 90 percent develop radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis (as early as seven years post surgery)." In more recent years, the amount of female-related ACL injuries have become an epidemic.

Each year young athletes across the United States are dying on the field from serious health related conditions that are often preventable. According to a recent article published in The New York Times, these conditions that ail our students are sudden cardiac arrest, heatstroke and concussion. While serious death rarely occurs from a sudden blow to the head (concussion), cardiac arrest and heatstroke can most certainly result in death, if not, serious brain injury. In fact, sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of young athletes today.

Statistics show that a young athlete dies once every three days in the United States alone due to sudden cardiac arrest. Heatstroke is also a serious contender for death among young athletes. These statistics, of course, are terrifying to any parent of a student athlete. Let's examine the symptoms, causes and preventative steps to take when trying to protect our youth from avoidable death.

Residents among the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea seem to know something most don't. They have lower risk of heart disease, and reduced risk of cancer, chronic diseases, and cardiovascular mortality. So, what's keeping them so healthy? In short: their diet.

I'm sure you've heard of the Mediterranean diet at some point. This diet is based on the concept that one should consume plant based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, substitute butter for healthy fats like olive or canola oil, reduce intake of red meat — we discussed the benefits of this practice in last week's column— while consuming poultry and fish at least twice a week. In fact, on this diet, it is even ideal to drink a glass of red wine, but remember moderation, of course.

Mackie Spotlight

EJGH’s very own Mackie Shilstone, Executive Director of the Fitness Principle, is in New York working with Serena Williams as she goes for another U.S. Open title. As Williams’s Fitness Coach, Mackie will be part of the team preparing her for matches throughout the tournament. To give everyone a behind-the-scenes look at how Williams prepares for every opponent, Mackie is writing a daily postcard for detailing all the day’s happenings. Check back daily for updates. 8/22/13
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