• Article

#WHOOPEd Digest, Vol. 34

By Allison Isham

#WHOOPEd Digest, Vol. 34

Virtual reality ski training, the benefits of strengthening your hamstrings, and the first ever brain bank for women.

Hamstring strength is an important component in knee injury prevention. Try adding kettlebell swings to your workout routines.

  • In a study by Del Monte et al., 14 participants were assessed for medial hamstrings and biceps femoris via surface electromyography (sEMG) after performing three different kettlebells swings. The kettlebell swings were hip hinge, squat and double knee extension.
  • Overall, the hip hinge kettlebell swings “produced the greatest amount of hamstring sEMG for the three styles of kettlebell swings assessed.
  • The medial hamstring muscles play a supporting role to the ACL hence, strengthening the hamstrings can be crucial in ACL injury prevention.

The National PTSD Brain Bank and Pink Concussions announced today they will open the first ever brain bank for women. Research shows “women and girls suffer from concussions at higher rate and have a more extensive recovery time.”

  • The first ever brain bank for women is being created in a partnership between Pink Concussions and the National PTSD Brain Bank.
  • Studies have shown that girls and women suffer from concussions at a higher rate than men and endure a longer recovery time. Despite this information, the majority of concussion research information has been done on male brains.
  • Only two peer-reviewed journals on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the early 1990s have addressed women’s brains and they were there by accident.
  • Brandi Chastain, USA women’s soccer star, announced in 2016 she would donate her brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation at Boston University.
  • Organizers are calling this movement #PINKBrainPledge, and it will “focus on recruiting women with a history of TBI and PTSD–particularly veterans, victims of domestic violence and current and former athletes.”

In 2016, nearly 100,000 Australians with osteoarthritis received hip or knee joint replacements. Total cost: >$2 billion. In an effort to curb cost and post-surgery effects, one doctor seeks to educate the conservative side of exercise and diet.

  • Almost 100,000 Australians with osteoarthritis received knee or hip joint replacement in 2016. The total cost of these surgical procedures exceeded $2 billion.
  • Many assume these joint replacements are occurring in an older population, however a large number of patients are in their prime working years (25-64 years of age).
  • Instead of pursuing conservative options, many people rush into surgery because they don’t understand other options.
  • Andrew Briggs, co-leader of the Victorian project and professor of health systems and services at Curtin University, is highly encouraging a plan to improve this epidemic. He states there needs to be education on the condition and options to improve pain/discomfort, such as exercise and diet.
  • “Joint replacement surgery provides relief for people with advanced joint disease. For those who don’t need it, surgery can cause more problems than it solves.” – Peter Choong, Director of Orthopaedic Surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

87% of D1 women’s gymnasts specialized by the age of 12. On the other hand, 71% of D1 football players were multi-sport athletes. When deciding how to train your child, consider what your goals for the sport are.

  • For some college coaches, like Urban Meyer, there is a strong recruiting preference for multi-sport athletes. However, there are a lot of questions on either side when it comes to single-sport vs. multi-sport, such as:
    • “Is it realistic for student athletes to play multiple sports and do well in school?”
    • “Does sports specialization lead to more overuse injuries and burnout?”
  • Advocates for single-sport specialization:
    • Depends on the sport: gymnastics tends to be an teenage sport, thus athletes are prepared to compete when it matters most.
    • Elite clubs with top coaches have resources readily available to help players develop to be their best.
  • Advocates for the multi-sport athlete:
    • Overuse injuries are sustained from repetitive motion. Multiple-sport athletes will use different muscle groups for various motions and systemic strength.
    • Avoidance of burnout by enjoying various components of different sports.
  • Take home message: families need to communicate and understand data, coaching perspectives and the overall goal for their athletes.

What happens when you strap a 360-degree camera to a skier’s helmet as he goes down a mountain, and combine that with athletic rehabilitation? A Virtual Reality (VR) environment where strobe glasses help retrain the brain.

  • The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah is an 85,000 square foot state of the art facility. There are five main stations in the center:
    • Strength and conditioning
    • Physiology
    • Medical
    • Sports Psychology
    • Nutrition
  • “As we improve our ability to incorporate data into our analyses and processes, we have been able to create impactful reports for Team USA. Improved data analysis is a key focus of the USOC to drive sports medicine, as well as high-performance outcomes.” – Dr. Bill Moreau, Vice President of Sports Medicine at the U.S. Olympic Committee.
  • Strivr Labs teamed up with the Center of Excellence to “build a virtual reality system that digitally recreates the Olympic Downhill Course in Pyeongchang, right down to the location of the dates and shapes of the turns the racers will navigate.”
  • This was done by placing a 360-degree camera on top of a skier’s helmet as they navigated the actual mountain in Korea. Using the VR software, the skiers are prepared to tackle the environment.
  • Another type of technology used are strobe glasses, which help with recovery from knee injuries. After injury, MRI results showed that the brain changes how it processes information from the injury–people are apt to show minimal trust in the injured limb.

Prone to hamstring injuries? Here are a few exercises that could help mitigate the risk of injury.

  • Strength training for the prevention of hamstring injuries should consider the impact of muscle activation due to exercise selection.
  • Take home point: Understand anatomy and decide which exercises are most beneficial for the sport and rehab intention.
  • “It seems logical to prescribe athletes a combination of both hip and knee-dominant movements to effectively target all heads of the hamstring.”


Make sure to check out @whoop on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.