JOHN DOHERTY: Some summer thoughts on bodybuilding, marching band safety protocols and dietary supplements | Sports

Vain thoughts as MLB teams idle for All-Star break…..

  • Back in April, I wrote about the benefits of strength training for baseball players young and old.

If my word wasn’t good enough for reluctant baseball – and football – dads, then maybe they’ll take the advice of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Last month’s issue featured an article titled “Youth Resistance Training Mythology.”

With co-authors from Boston Children’s Hospital and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, among other institutions, the story’s main thread reads: “The health and fitness benefits of training in resistance training in youth are well established.In addition to increasing muscle fitness and fundamental motor skills, resistance training can increase bone mineral density, improve cardiometabolic health, aid weight control, and reduce injury risk. The World Health Organization recommends that children and adolescents participate in muscle-strengthening activities at least 3 days a week.

Yet despite this authoritative advice, “participation in youth resistance training is falling short of expectations,” the co-authors lamented.

Young athletes with expectations of success will find that the path of least resistance is through the weight room.

  • Last July, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed legislation that extended to marching band directors the requirement that coaches be trained in how to deal with sudden cardiac arrest. However, the health of the band members goes far beyond their hearts.

It is high time, given the arduous nature of the activity – especially in hot weather – that the members of the marching band receive the same physical training and the same medical care as the athletes.

To that end, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) last week promoted its tape safety course on Twitter. Recommended for school administrators and marching band directors and sponsors, the course is priced right. It’s free.

In May, the NFHS published an article titled “Preventing Heat Illness – Play the Band.” In it, Drs. Neha Raukar and James Weaver warned how hot different walking surfaces get when air temperatures reach 90 F: grass 90 F, concrete 135 F and asphalt 145 F. No mention of artificial turf.

They also reported on a study of news stories published last year by the University of Georgia which “found that between 1990 and 2020, nearly 400 (group members nationwide) became ill due to exposure to heat and 44% had to be hospitalized”.

The National Athletic Trainers Association, in a document also released in May (NATA Offers Timely Recommendations to Keep Marching Band Members Healthy and Well Prepared for Activity | NATA), recommended the following for marching band programs: a pre- season for members, a location-specific emergency action plan written – and practiced annually – pre-season conditioning including strength training and heat acclimatization, a lightning safety plan, uniforms alternate t-shirts and shorts in the heat, proper hydration, a concussion education program, and a well-stocked first-aid kit.

It looks pretty much like any other sport to me.

  • Last month, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an op-ed that claimed vitamins and supplements were a “waste of money” for most people and endorsed exercise and healthy eating instead. There was a qualifier. Pregnant women should always follow their doctor’s advice regarding iron and folic acid.

Two supplements were chosen to avoid altogether. Beta-carotene has been linked to lung cancer. Vitamin E, which has long been claimed to reduce heart disease and cancer, just doesn’t work.

On the other hand, buried in the editorial was an acknowledgment of some evidence that multivitamins slightly increase longevity.

One popular supplement lately that didn’t make it into the editorial: beetroot juice.

However this year, the journal Sports Health published two articles regarding its benefits. The current print edition includes a review of the literature on Spain, which examined nine studies. Taken together, they have been shown that beet juice supplementation shortens the period of post-exercise muscle soreness and accelerates recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage.

Also from Spain (different authors but from some of the same universities) comes a study that was published online in May but has yet to be published. This effort concluded that supplementing beetroot juice two hours before a workout increased strength in physically active women.

Take note. The supplement was a kind of vegetable juice, not a pill, and benefits were only seen when combined with exercise.

John Doherty is a licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist. This column reflects his opinion only. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.

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