Rowing fitness provides high intensity workouts in a limited time

Fitness enthusiasts often face the challenge of balancing sufficient workout time with work and family obligations.  One potential option is rowing.  As one of the oldest competitive sports, rowing uses multiple large muscle groups to attain an excellent workout in a short period of time.

The Yale-Harvard rowing regatta was first held in 1852 and is the oldest intercollegiate sporting event in the United States.  On-water rowing consists of sweep rowing (both hands on one oar) and sculling (one oar in each hand).

In 1981, Concept 2 produced an indoor rowing machine that revolutionized training and helped many athletes gain the fitness benefits of rowing.

Workouts, both on and off water, consist of short intense sprints and longer, moderately paced sessions.  Due to the intense cyclic exercise of major muscle groups and the aerobic demands, rowing results in superior cardiovascular endurance.

Cardiac ultrasound studies of elite rowers demonstrate increased cardiac muscle mass.  These studies show the ability of a trained heart to pump more blood with less effort.

The rowing stroke starts with an explosive pushing-off motion by the legs, extending the back and pulling the oar through with the arms at the finish.

Rowing injuries most commonly affect the low back, upper and lower extremities.  The action of the low back moving from flexion to extension against resistance puts tremendous torque on the ligaments, muscles and discs.  This can result in sprain, strain and disc herniation.

Upper extremity injuries from rowing are a result of overuse.  Joints become inflamed causing bursitis and tendonitis.

The most common lower extremity joint injury affects the tendons holding the patella (knee cap) in place.  Rapid extension of the knee can cause the patella to divert from its usual track resulting in tendon pain.

Rowing is a sport worth exploring when looking for an intense workout in a limited period of time.

Mackey-White Committee delves deeper into head trauma

The potential for injury while participating in violent collision sports has become more apparent in recent years.  Athletes are now bigger, stronger and faster since the inception of sports like football and hockey.  The problem is clear but the solution is not.  The Mackey-White Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Committee is making an effort to solve this problem.

Named after NFL Hall of Fame players John Mackey and Reggie White, the committee was established in 2009 under the direction of the National Football League Player Association (NFLPA) Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.

"The Mackey-White Committee is the forum which helps guide the NFLPA on workplace safety and the health of our players,” said Thom Mayer, the NFLPA medical director.  “While it originally focused on concussions and traumatic brain injury, its scope now encompasses all aspects of player safety.  Its membership comprises a "Pro Bowl" team of physicians, scientists, and current and former players whose work has been extremely impressive," said Mayer.

Among the most productive features of the meeting is discussion with current and former athletes, some of whom suffer from the chronic effects of TBI.  One request is to protect athletes from themselves when they make bad decisions to keep playing after brain injuries.

Positioning neurologists and other sports concussion experts on each sideline during games is one recommendation that is still being considered by the National Football League.  At collegiate and youth levels of the sport, a recent study confirmed that the association of a licensed health care professional with a team improves the diagnosis and recovery from concussion.

Empowering on-field officials to report concussion and remove injured athletes from play has already been productive.  Instituting a “battle buddy” program that has helped military personnel is under consideration.

It has become clear that football must continue to evolve in order to continue its current level of popularity.