Be prepared before hitting a sports fantasy camp

A professional pianist slides into second base, fracturing his right hand a week before a scheduled performance with Aerosmith, an orthopedic surgeon breaks his ankle rounding third and a homemaker dislocates her finger trying to barehand a ground ball. These are all examples of injuries seen in the growing business of fantasy baseball camps.

Adult fantasy sports camps allow participants to swing, shoot, putt, ski or bat with their sports idols. As the variety of camps and participation has grown, so has the number and type of injuries.

“I advise campers to start out slow and gradually build up as the camp progresses,” said Greg Spratt, a certified athletic trainer with the New York Yankees who has worked with many baseball fantasy campers over the years. “Unfortunately, many try to go all-out on day one and often end their camp experience in the training room. There is no fantasy disabled list.”

Spratt provides incoming campers with a program that includes stretching, running, hitting and throwing drills. He advises that the program begin 12 weeks prior to the big week.

Preparation for a sports fantasy camp will only involve a small percentage of athletes but the lessons are easily applied to any athlete preparing for a competitive season.

Some important tips include:

Physical exam. Make an appointment for an annual physical exam with your physician before heading to the gym. This should include a cardiac stress test if necessary.
Lose weight. Spring is a good time to get rid of any extra pounds put on over the winter. It will also put less stress on muscles and tendons.
Stretch. The most common injuries in sports camps are torn muscles, particularly the hamstrings. Adequate warm-up cannot be over-emphasized.
Sport-specific movement. Incorporate activities that involve swinging, throwing and jumping similar to the actual sport.

Sports fantasy camps usually require a significant financial investment. That investment will pay off greatly if it includes getting into better shape.

The viability of sports medicine academies

Recently, a high school classmate who has become a successful orthopedic surgeon approached me about becoming involved in establishing a sports medicine academy within our alma mater.

The concept of sports medicine academies has arisen from the increased number of people participating in athletic activities and subsequent sports-related injuries. Several recent surveys project a growing need for health care professionals with a background in sports medicine.

Sports medicine is generally associated with professional and collegiate sports teams. Interestingly, although highly publicized, these high profile injuries make up a relatively small percentage of the sports injuries evaluated each year.

Medical studies continue to demonstrate that many chronic illnesses can be more effectively treated with a regimen that includes regular exercise. Among these are vascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and dementia.

Health professions involved in sports are physicians, athletic trainers, physical therapists, psychologists, nurses, exercise physiologists and conditioning specialists. The goal of sports medicine academies is to provide fundamental education with transferrable skills that allow students to enter any of these areas of study.

In addition to a basic liberal arts high school course load, students are required to study anatomy, physiology, biology, biostatistics, sports conditioning and marketing. All students are also required to work in a variety of sports medicine settings to gain clinical and practical experience.

Although sports medicine is often associated with the treatment and prevention of athletic injuries, one of the most exciting areas of sports medicine involves the study and improvement of human performance.

Making the human body more efficient is one key to improving health and avoiding disease. A foundation in sports medicine may provide the necessary skills for future health care professionals.