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#WHOOPEd Digest, Vol. 32

By Allison Isham

#WHOOPEd Digest, Vol. 32

Is a gluten-free diet healthy for everybody? Why can some athletes play through ACL injuries? Plus mindefulness and sport, and a tip for falling asleep faster.

From an orthopedic surgeon, all the basics of ACL injuries. Why can some athletes play with a torn ACL? Do braces actually help?

  • It was revealed after the Foster Farms Bowl victory that Purdue’s quarterback had been playing since November 11th with a torn ACL.
  • Purdue’s orthopedic consultant Dr. Rodney Benner answered various questions from specific concerns for the quarterback and ACL questions in general.
  • Some factors that are considered in whether an ACL ends a season, of if an athlete can continue to play are:
    • The position they play
    • Range of motion and strength
    • The player, the player’s family, coaching staff and medical staff
  • There are other ramifications to consider when playing through an ACL injury, as the ACL isn’t the only structure that is subject to damage. If the ACL is torn, other structures are now subject to more torque and force, such as the meniscus cartilages.
  • Braces can be helpful and allow the athlete to feel more stable during activity.

Mindfulness and Sport.

  • “Mindfulness is a structured mindset to being aware of the present moment experience in an accepting non-judging and non-avoiding way, which can be understood as a state or a trait.” – Kabat-Zinn, 1994
  • A meta-analysis study was conducted on the effects of mindfullness on sports performance, including 9 trials and over 290 healthy sport participants.
  • The intervention time varied from 4 weeks to over 2 years.
  • Mindfulness can be a positive intervention as the studies found that when implementing mindfulness, physiological and psychological performance improved.

Why sleep is essential for the student athlete: Lack of sleep disrupts metabolism, can lead to weight gain and lack of recovery for muscle growth. An article by the President of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association.

  • Outside of food and water there is one crucial component to life that we seem to have a shortage of: sleep.
  • Lack of sleep has numerous ramifications:
    • It interferes with healing and recovery from injuries. During sleep, cells grow, repair and rebuild.
    • Metabolism is affected, as “sleep controls insulin and glucose functioning, secretion of metabolic hormones and the way fat and muscle cells use energy.”
    • Weight gain and obesity can be caused by lack of sleep.
    • Mental health: the body’s ability to control stress and emotions is a result of a good night’s sleep.
    • Cognitive health: lack of sleep can result in a poor attention span the next day and impede good decision making.
  • Tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
    • Try a regular sleep schedule; try to pick a consistent time each night to go to sleep, and wake up the same time each morning.
    • Avoid electronics in bed.
    • Create a “sleep friendly” environment: make the room a little cooler, make sure shades and curtains are closed, do whatever else you need to be relaxed.

What’s the deal with a gluten-free (GF) diet? Is there a benefit to being GF if you are healthy? A Doctor at Columbia University says GF is not wellness promoting.

  • Many people are using a gluten free (GF) guided diet these days. Sophie Egan, writer for the New York Times, sat down with Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, the director of clinical research at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.
  • Dr. Lebwohl states that a GF diet is NOT an intrinsically wellness-promoting diet.
  • Avoiding gluten like wheat or barley can actually reduce the overall quality of someone’s diet.
  • “The most common issue people run into when starting a gluten-free diet is fiber intake often plummets.”- Dr Lebwohl.
  • We know that fiber is essential to digestive health, and not getting the recommended daily amount of fiber can lead to issues such as constipation and lack of fulfillment from eating.
  • GF substitute foods actually tend to have more fat, more sugar and more salt.
  • Only about 1% of Americans truly have celiac disease.

Do you struggle to fall asleep at night due to anxiety about everything you have to do the next day? A study at Baylor University shows that taking 5 minutes to write a to-do list before bed helps anxious people get to sleep faster.

  • At Baylor University, 57 volunteers attended a sleep lab, they filled out questionnaires about their sleep habits and had basic medical tests.
  • Half of the group tried technique 1 below, and the other half tried technique 2.
    1. “Spend five minutes before lights out writing about everything you did that day.”
    1. “Spend five minutes writing a comprehensive to-do list.”
  • The subjects were wired to sleep testing machines and before bed they tried one of the previous listed solutions.
  • The key finding was the group that participated in the to-do list condition fell asleep more quickly.

Two studies show sleeping more than 8 hours a night (actually sleeping, not just time in bed) can reduce risk of injury from 64-70%. A better diet can also favorably reduce risk of injury.

  • A study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport followed 340 high school athletes.
  • “Athletes who slept at least 8 hours per night in the fall semester were 61% less likely to report an injury.”
  • “Those who reported meeting recommendations for eating enough fruits, vegetables and fish were 64% less likely to report injury.”
  • Another study from Harvard-Westlake, a high school in California, found that student athletes who slept less than 8 hours a night were 70% more likely to get injured.


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