The simple act of jumping rope

The decision to get into better physical condition can become a very expensive enterprise. When the effort involves children, the interest can be short-lived and lead to unused gym memberships.

Some activities involve little cash outlay and can be enjoyed by the entire family. Among these is jumping rope.

The history of jumping rope is believed to date back to Egypt in 1600 AD. Rope jumping not only served as child’s play but as training for warriors.

Dutch children in early America jumped with two ropes simultaneously and subsequently the term “Double Dutch” became common.

Jumping rope continues to provide an outstanding exercise for burning calories, building strength and improving coordination. Jumping rope for one hour can burn 1300 calories.

Modern rope jumping has become a group exercise activity performed as part of exercise classes. Although it is typically associated with children, it continues to be a preferred method of training for boxers and other combat athletes.

Athletes recovering from lower extremity injuries are often prescribed jumping rope as part of their recovery to rebuild strength and joint proprioception. Proprioception is the brain’s ability to detect the position of an extremity in space.

Childhood obesity is a major problem in the United States today. Physical education programs with shrinking budgets have found rope jumping to be an effective, inexpensive exercise.

Locally, a group of students from the Integrated Day Charter School who love to jump rope have put together a service-learning project titled, “Ambassadors for Heart.” Their goal is to perform at public events and raise awareness of the dangers of physical inactivity and obesity in children and adults.

The efforts of these young ambassadors are entirely supported by private donations. They deserve our support.

Jumping rope can be a first step toward better health.

Peyton Manning and cervical radiculopathy

Among recent recurring stories in sports is speculation regarding the successful return of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. On Sept. 8, Manning underwent a third surgery to alleviate pressure on a nerve root in his neck.

The cervical spine consists of seven bones called vertebrae located below the skull. Discs made of cartilage separate each of the vertebrae to avoid the friction and wear of bone rubbing on bone. This entire system is held together by a series of ligaments.

The cervical spine is designed to protect the spinal cord and the nerve roots that emerge from the spinal cord to conduct motor and sensory impulses to and from the limbs and vital organs. Damage to these fragile nerves can result in paralysis or death.

Typical injuries to the cervical spine include:

• Fracture of the vertebral bones
• Tearing of the ligaments that attach the bony vertebrae
• Rupture of the intervertebral discs from their central location

In football and other violent collision sports, it is not uncommon to see worn and ruptured discs on imaging studies like MRI and CT scans. Unfortunately, these findings are sometimes seen in young healthy athletes.

The cervical nerve roots responsible for triggering the muscles of the arm are also the ones most commonly injured. Without adequate neural control, throwing is a difficult task, especially for an NFL quarterback.

Surgical intervention includes removing pieces of the offending discs. If the surgery or surgeries require removing a large volume of disc, bone chips are inserted between the vertebrae to prevent dislocation.

While fusing the spine creates a firm repair, it also limits the range of motion of the neck. It is this loss of motion, along with arm weakness, that will make Manning’s return a formidable challenge.

Peyton Manning’s recovery will require all the discipline and effort he has acquired over the years.