Jan 29, 2015
NATA 2010: What You May Have Missed

T&C Managing Editor Greg Scholand blogged from the NATA Annual Meeting last week. You don’t want to miss Greg’s take on the educational sessions and panel discussions he attends, as well as his observations from the convention floor.


1:30 p.m.: Friday afternoon, and time for T&C to figuratively fold up our tent and literally fold up our booth. We had a great time here in Philly, and for the third straight year, I’m coming home with lots of new information and some great feedback on the magazine from readers who stopped by our booth or talked with me around the convention hall. Thanks to everyone who helped make this a wonderful week.

Like many of you, we’re already looking forward to the 2011 annual meeting in New Orleans. We hope to see you there!

11:55 a.m.: Why are the lower extremities so important in the baseball pitching motion? Research shows that more than half of the energy transferred to a pitched baseball comes from the hips and below. The shoulder and elbow are the relatively weakest links in the chain, so if lower-body mechanics are poor or flexibility is limited, the upper body will have to shoulder (pun intended!) too large a share of the load.

I picked up that morsel this morning at a session called “The Baseball and Windmill Softball Pitch: Pitching Mechanics and Injury Prevention from the Lower Extremity.” The presenter was Gretchen Oliver, PhD, LAT, ATC, of University of Arkansas.

This session was quite technical and relied heavily on slides for illustration, so there’s not much I can summarize here. But I can say that it included the most interesting graphic I’ve seen at the convention this year: Oliver used original research to produce a bar graph breaking the softball windmill pitching motion into five phases. It isolated five different muscles–the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, biceps brachii, triceps brachii, and rhomboids–and showed the maximum voluntary isometric contraction for each muscle during each of the five windmill phases.

The greatest force in phases one and four came from the gluteus maximus. In phase two, it was the rhomboids. In phases three and five, the most force came from the triceps. I’ll try to get a Web-friendly version of the complete graph and post it on this blog later.


5:30 p.m.: The NATA Hall of Fame induction ceremony is always one of the highlights of the convention program, and this year was no exception. It’s always special to see all the past honorees on stage together in their green jackets as they welcome the newest members into their exclusive club.

This year’s inductees were Randy Biggerstaff of Lindenwood University, Lynn Bott of Baker University, Frank Walters of Broward Health in Florida, and Keith Webster of the University of Kentucky. From all of us at Training & Conditioning, a very sincere CONGRATULATIONS to each of you on this most deserved recognition!

Every year during the induction speeches, it strikes me how quick the new Hall of Famers are quick to deflect praise away from themselves and their accomplishments, instead focusing on the support, assistance, and encouragement they’ve received from others throughout their careers. That’s probably because most aspects of athletic training truly are a team effort … but I’ll bet it also says something about what it takes to be a great athletic trainer. These individuals reach the height of the profession because they’re naturally inclined to selflessness and an “others first” attitude, so it’s no surprise that when their names are called and they step up the podium, their first instinct is to talk about everyone who helped get them there.

Here’s a shot from the ceremony:


1:50 p.m.: The Johnson & Johnson Feature Presentation this year focused on what is arguably the athletic trainer’s foremost responsibility: “Preventing Sudden Death During Sport and Physical Activity.” The main topics covered were sudden cardiac arrest, exertional sickling, head injuries (particularly concussions), and heat stroke, and the four presenters–Ron Courson of the University of Georgia, Scott Anderson of the University of Oklahoma, Kevin Guskiewicz of the University of North Carolina, and Doug Casa of the University of Connecticut–have all been quoted in T&C in recent years for their expertise in those areas.

For each topic, the guidelines for prevention and intervention are well known among athletic trainers. But a common theme among the speakers was the importance of not just acting correctly, but acting fast–beginning treatment as quickly as possible, and making every second count.

For instance, Ron Courson discussed common mistakes that slow treatment when an athlete suffers sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Imagine this scenario when an athlete collapses: The athletic trainer arrives, spends 30 seconds checking multiple sites for a pulse, and then checks for breathing. The athlete begins to seize, so the athletic trainer stabilizes the head until the seizure ends. By the time it’s determined the athlete’s heart stopped and an AED is needed, several minutes might have passed, and there’s further delay while the AED is retrieved and applied.

Courson put up a graph showing that for every minute between an SCA event and the start of defibrillation, survival rate decreases by seven to 10 percent–so those lost minutes can literally mean life or death. He advised spending no more than a few seconds checking for pulse and breathing, and assuming that any seizing athlete who has no history of seizure is experiencing SCA. The AED will determine whether the heart is stopped before delivering a shock, so it should be applied right away.

Again, it’s not just about acting correctly, it’s about acting fast!

11:45 a.m.: At a great session called “Yoga Therapy,” Kimberly Gray, MS, ATC, of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, discussed a theory on why yoga is growing in popularity among athletes and the population at large. She suggested that the more our daily lives take us away from the movement patterns and muscle engagements that we evolved as a species performing, the greater the risk for dysfunction and imbalances throughout the body. In other words, humans weren’t designed to sit at desks all day, and especially not to lean forward and stare at computer screens.

Gray then got into specifics on some yoga poses, or “asanas,” that practitioners can use with athletes to address various dysfunctions. She drew several interesting parallels between yoga movements or poses and traditional athletic training tests–in some cases, they’re practically identical. For instance, an asana called Ardha Apanasana, which involves raising one knee to the chest while lying supine, is essentially the same thing as the well-know Thomas Test for assessing glute and hip joint capsule flexibility in the flexed leg, the length of the iliopsoas in the extended leg, and overall core stability.

The applications for yoga in athletics and the parallels between yoga principles and traditional conditioning methods are subjects we continue to learn about at T&C. Are you interested in reading more on this topic? We welcome your feedback on this or any other subject you’d like to see covered in the magazine or on our Web site–you’re always invited to drop me a line at [email protected].

10:50 a.m.: As an editorial voice of the magazine, I have a responsibility to remain neutral on most matters product-related. But having sampled about seven different protein shakes at the show so far, I’ve developed pretty firm opinions on which ones taste great, which ones are alright, and which ones I think it’s counterproductive to offer free samples of. If only I could share them with you!


3:45 p.m.: At a session Called “Nutrition Recommendations for Pre, During, and Post Exercise,” Jaqueline Berning, PhD, RD, CSSD, Chair of the Biology Department at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, brought up interesting points on a variety of topics. Here’s a sampling:

• Athletes are more aware than ever of the importance of recovery nutrition, and that’s great. But eating for recovery is not necessary for everyone, and some athletes don’t realize this. Berning noted that athletes who aren’t concerned about next-day performance (for instance, those who are in their off-season and not participating in an ongoing training program) won’t suffer a physical detriment by not eating immediately after exercise, as long as they make good choices at mealtimes and replace fluids/electrolytes as needed. Another example involves extreme endurance athletes–a marathon runner, for instance, doesn’t need to worry about eating for recovery within 30 minutes of crossing the finish line. They’re not likely to be active the next day, so physical rest, fluids, and balanced, healthy meals at mealtimes are all that’s needed to allow the body a full (albeit slower) recovery.

• Nutrient timing is sometimes especially difficult for student-athletes at large high schools, because these schools typically stagger their lunch schedules. As a result, some students eat lunch as early as 10:30 a.m., which is really more like a lake breakfast. If they have practice after school at 3 p.m. and their class schedule doesn’t permit time to eat in the early afternoon, they’ll be in a serious energy deficit by mid-practice. For athletes in a situation like this, it may be worth trying to arrange with a teacher to allow them to eat a sandwich and a piece of fruit during an early afternoon class.

• Sometimes, it just doesn’t work to talk with an athlete about carbohydrate-protein ratios, glycemic index, and other nutritional specifics when planning a pre-game meal: They just want to know, “What should I eat?” Berning provides these athletes with simple answers, based on how soon before the activity they’ll be eating:

One Hour Pre-Competition: Stick to liquids, such as water and sports drinks. Avoid high-glycemic beverages such as soda or energy drinks, which have a very high carb ratio that will result in a short energy boost followed by a quick crash.

Two Hours Pre-Competition:
Sports drinks along with cereal with low-fat milk, or toast, or a low-fat muffin, or a bagel, or yogurt and fruit.

Three Hours Pre-Competition:
Sports drinks, a turkey sandwich with low-fat cheese, yogurt, fruit, and a granola bar.

2:45 p.m.: Convention attendees: If you’re passing by Meeting Room 108, check out the bizarre sculpture that’s basically a 40-foot pile of coffee cups all glued together. I took this photo of it, which I call “Civil Disobedience”:


12:55 p.m.: A neat experience last hour for everyone who was on the trade show floor when Landon Donovan scored in extra time to put the U.S. into the next round of the World Cup: It was playing on several flat screen TVs at various companies’ booths, and everyone in the hall let out a big cheer. Thank God none of the companies at the show are passing out vuvuzelas.

12:15 p.m.: Every year at the convention, the NATA uses its press conference as a forum to bring a sports medicine issue to the attention of the media and the general public. It’s not an event ATCs typically attend, but it’s an important part of the association’s effort to raise nationwide awareness on key topics and athletic trainers’ role in protecting athletes.

This year’s focus was methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a perennial “hot topic” in the sports world. I’m happy to report that practically all the recommendations for MRSA prevention and treatment are the same ones we’ve covered in the magazine in recent years, in articles like this one and this one.

But there’s always something new you can learn, even if it’s just another way to present the same information. At the press conference, David Vasily, MD, a dermatologist based in Bethlehem, Pa., who works with Lehigh University athletics, provided a new acronym to remind athletic trainers of the most critical steps in keeping athletes safe from skin infections: HITE.

H – Hygiene (individual, team-wide, and facility); also Health (particularly of the immune system, and related factors such as nutrition)
I – Identify (remain vigilant and catch potential infections in their earliest stages); also Isolate (quarantine suspected cases until they can be evaluated and cultured)
T – Treat; also Triage (physician-directed intervention to kill the infection)
E – Educate (make sure athletes understand the risks of MRSA and know how to identify the early signs of infection on themselves and their teammates)

Is your program at the HITE of MRSA prevention?

I also picked up an interesting (and somewhat sobering) fact from another panelist, a physician who served in Vietnam: After bullet wounds, skin infections were the second leading cause of soldiers’ inability to perform during that war. Moral of the story: Close quarters, physical contact, and limited hygiene are always a recipe for infection risk.

9:10 a.m.: The T&C team had a fun time kicking off our stay in Philadelphia last night. We attended a Phillies game with the ladies of OPTP (visit their booth, at #1230, after you visit ours at #1120!). In a really neat gesture, starting in the third inning, the Phils and visiting Cleveland Indians paid homage to the ongoing World Cup by not scoring at all for the rest of the game. But we enjoyed ourselves anyway (the Phillies won 2-1), and it’s always great to reconnect with people we see at the show every year.

I’m now at the convention center and off to the sessions, so stay tuned…

And here is a photo from the game:


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