Understanding Head Injuries Through Biomechanics and Math

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In biomechanics, systems in motion — such as the impact of a ball on a player’s head — are described or “modeled” by mathematical differential equations. For example, these equations can show the relationship between the acceleration or force of the ball to the head at impact, and the change in shape of brain tissue in response to that form. The solution to these equations provides information that could be used to establish new safety regulations or adequate sports gear for players.

Current studies show that heading the ball may not be as much of a concern as physicians and parents thought, although it is not fully understood how repetitive head shooting, through many years of play, affects players. Further research will continue to help treat and prevent injuries, and improve athlete performance through individualized coaching.

Learn more about the basics of head injuries and biomechanics or read the more technical mathematical explanation.

Articles by Cristian Clavijo.

Hot or Cold: How Temperature Affects Sports

Fig2Crespo We are always interested in knowing how hot or cold our day is going to be so we can plan for the day ahead of us. No matter what activities we plan, we want to accomplish them without unnecessary distress. Different ambient temperatures might encourage us to engage in outdoor activities, such as practicing sports, or postponing them for another time. Since any type of exercise produces heat as by-product, accumulation of too much heat in excessively high ambient temperatures can compromise athletic performance. This detriment to athletic performance can also arise when ambient temperatures are excessively low. Our bodies cope with changes in temperature through different thermoregulatory processes. However, without taking proper precautions prior to and after exercising, this regulation of body temperature might not be enough, and cannot only make us feel uncomfortable, but also put our health at risk.

Learn the basics of temperature and sports or read the more technical explanation.

Articles by Jose G. Crespo.

Putting Protein in Its Place

newfoodpyramid_largeProtein powders, bars, and drinks are often touted as the key to enhancing muscle growth, increasing energy, and losing excess body fat. Nutrition science indicates that excess protein intake can cause a decrease in the intake of other essential macronutrients. It can also saturate the body’s protein supply and result in depleted calcium stores, adversely affected kidney function, and damage to other critical systems of the body, including the cardiovascular system. Scientists recommend meeting the majority of nutritional needs from a nutrient-rich diet that balances the intake of carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Learn the basics of how protein affects your performance or read the more technical explanation.

Articles by Kenny Morley.

The Physiology Behind Performance-Enhancing Drugs

testosteroneUsing performance-enhancing drugs has become an unfortunate reality in the world of competitive sports.  Even as recently as the 2012 Olympics, an athlete (Nadzeya Ostapchuk) was stripped of her gold medal after scientists found banned chemical agents in her urine.

One has to wonder why talented young men and women would go to such lengths for that slight edge over their competitors.  Perhaps they are unaware of some of the dangerous side effects that can last throughout their lives, and can even affect their offspring.  Research has uncovered multiple side effects that should deter even the most competitive athlete from using performance-enhancing drugs.

Learn the basics of physiology and performance-enhancing drugs or learn the technical physiological details.

Articles by Kirstin Roundy.

Hydration and Sport Beverages

sports-drinks-athleteAthletes have many factors to consider when it comes to improving their performance, and one of these critical aspects is maintaining proper water levels, or hydration. Water makes up about 60 percent of the human body, and is critical to transport nutrients and maintain body temperature, among other physiological processes.

Numerous beverages and sports drinks have been promoted as being beneficial for fluid replacement or retention in athletes. For moderate exercise (less than two hours), water should be sufficient to meet hydration needs. For longer periods, sports beverages, drinks, or gels can help replace electrolytes lost in sweat. Some products are also recommended after exercise to replace the proteins and carbohydrates consumed. It is important for athletes to have proper hydration and nutrient levels before, during, and after exercise for both performance and overall health, and specialized products can help fulfill these needs.

Learn the basics of staying hydrated or read the more technical explanation.

Articles by Jamie Saunders.

Hydration and Sport Beverages

sports-drinks-athleteAthletes have many factors to consider when it comes to improving their performance, and one of these critical aspects is maintaining proper water levels, or hydration. Water makes up about 60 percent of the human body, and is critical to transport nutrients and maintain body temperature, among other physiological processes.

Numerous beverages and sports drinks have been promoted as being beneficial for fluid replacement or retention in athletes. For moderate exercise (less than two hours), water should be sufficient to meet hydration needs. For longer periods, sports beverages, drinks, or gels can help replace electrolytes lost in sweat. Some products are also recommended after exercise to replace the proteins and carbohydrates consumed. It is important for athletes to have proper hydration and nutrient levels before, during, and after exercise for both performance and overall health, and specialized products can help fulfill these needs.

Learn the basics of staying hydrated or read the more technical explanation.

Articles by Jamie Saunders.

How Much Do Genes Affect Your Athletic Potential?

Human genetics can play a major role in determining an athlete’s potential. Genetic information is passed from parent to child and is stored within human cells in the form of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). An individual’s DNA influences attributes such as height and weight and can help to determine if an individual has a predisposition towards athleticism. Genes play a major role in body type and athletic ability, but an athlete must also work hard to realize his/her potential.

Learn the basics of genes and athletic potential or read the more technical biological background.

Articles by Jamie Saunders.

Aerodynamics and Cycling

Cycling has undergone immense changes since its early days.  As science has opened our understanding of aerodynamics, it has driven changes in bicycle composition and design, the clothing worn by the cyclist, and even the positioning of the rider on the bicycle.

These three factors directly correlate to the amount of drag experienced by the cyclist.  In fact, researcher L. Brownlie reported that some styles of baggy clothes cost cyclists 1.17% of their finishing time in a 100-meter race.  Serious cyclists utilize this knowledge by dressing in sleek, close-fitting clothing to optimize their aerodynamics.

How much of a role do aerodynamics play? Learn the basics or read the more technical explanation.

Articles by Cristian Clavijo.