Training & Conditioning, 15.3, April 2005, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/tc/tc1503/bulletinboard.htm
NSCA Lists Recognized Education Programs
Future strength and conditioning coaches looking for help in picking a school to attend can turn to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Through its four-year-old Education Recognition Program, the NSCA offers students a way to determine which schools have met educational standards established by the association.
In order to be placed on the Education Recognition Program list, schools must provide required and suggested courses in several areas, including sports and exercise science, anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, exercise technique, and nutrition. With the addition of four schools—James Madison University, The College of New Jersey, Ohio Northern University, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi—during its winter application program, the program has recognized 51 schools to date.
"The Education Recognition Program is the first recognition of its kind that provides academic institutions with a tool to attract students who are interested in pursuing a career in strength training and conditioning," says Michael Barnes, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT, NSCA Education Director. "We commend these schools for taking proactive steps in making sure that their curriculum provides students with appropriate information."
The NSCA reviews applications from educational programs twice a year, with application deadlines of Jan. 1 and June 1. Application information and forms, as well as a list of currently recognized schools, are available on the NSCA Web site: www.nsca-lift.org/ERP.
Birth Control Pills & ACL Injuries Revisited
The ongoing effort to reduce non-contact ACL injuries in female athletes returned to the subject of hormone levels after a McGill University study suggested that birth control pills may help stabilize knee joints.
Researchers used an arthrometer to measure knee displacement in 78 female athletes, which included 42 who were taking birth control pills and 36 who were not. The women taking birth control pills showed less anterior translation of the tibia than those not using the pills. Other research suggests that tighter knee joints may make women less susceptible to ligament injuries.
"Previous research findings suggest that female hormones may play a role in altering ligament composition," Principal Investigator Paul Martineau said in Women’s Health News. "Based on these studies we decided to look at the effect of oral contraception on knee ligaments."
The study concluded that oral contraception "may have a role to play in the prevention of ACL injuries by prophylactically targeting one of the variables responsible for the increased ACL injury rates in women." The study was published in the September 2004 edition of the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.
For Hamstring Stretches, Supine Is Fine
Hamstring stretches have long been used to increase flexibility and guard against injury. In most cases, standing hamstring stretches have been used. Now a recent study in the Journal of Athletic Training suggests that supine stretching is just as effective and may be easier for athletes to perform properly.
The three-week study, conducted at the New Hampshire Musculoskeletal Institute in Manchester, N.H., compared hamstring flexibility, as measured by increasing range of motion at the knee, in 29 people with limited hamstring flexibility. Subjects were randomly assigned a different stretch for each leg. During standing stretches, pelvic position was controlled through instruction and supervision to ensure the most effective techniques were used, but supine stretches were not similarly controlled.
"Our results suggest that ‘casual’ supine hamstring stretching was as effective as the rigidly controlled standing stretching," says Linda Decoester, ATC, lead researcher on the project. "For this reason, it may be preferable to use the supine method in unsupervised settings, such as home exercise programs or with athletes. Furthermore, supine stretching may better isolate the hamstrings, allow improved relaxation, and, in general, be safer and more comfortable for people with a history of low back pain."
Steroids in High School
Although most of the discussion surrounding the use of performance-enhancing drugs has focused on Olympic and professional sports, there’s growing evidence that high school athletics are not free from their influence.
A recent series of articles in the Dallas Morning News looked at steroid use by high school athletes in the Dallas area and uncovered a school where nine athletes admitted to using steroids. The paper also found that steroids can be easily obtained by high school students; coaches rarely confront athletes or their parents about suspected steroid use, in part because of a fear of being sued; controlling steroid use is a low priority among most law enforcement agencies; and few schools test for steroids in any manner.
The exact level of steroid use by high school athletes is hard to determine. A survey of Texas high school students taken every other year by Texas A&M University estimates that nearly 42,000, or 2.0 percent, have used steroids. The percentage of 12th graders reporting steroid use was 4.2 percent. However, these figures include both athletes and non-athletes.
To read the Dallas Morning News series, go to: www.dallasnews.com/specialreports/sports and click on "The Secret Edge" (free registration required).