Year after year, India’s most promising athletes back out of important sporting events citing back pain. There is now new data intelligence available that slots back pain into 100 different types; and offers a customised treatment plan. Will this change things for Indian sports?
Indian sport is replete with stories of its female warriors who win laurels for the country. Unfortunately, due to lack of facilities and trainers, more often than not, they train under adverse conditions and suffer from injuries during crucial stages of their sporting pursuit.
Case in point being World championship and Commonwealth Games gold medallist weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu who had to pull out of the 2018 Asian Games due to a back injury. In February, she made a comeback after a nine-month injury-layoff and won the gold in the 49-kilogram category at the EGAT Cup in Thailand, a qualifier for quota places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Interestingly, doctors could not diagnose the cause of Chanu’s back pain. Anuj Arenja of QI Spine, India’s foremost medical centre for the diagnosis and treatment of back and neck pain said, ” WHO states that in 9 out of 10 cases of back pain , the primary cause or pain is not identified, which is what could have happened in Mirabai Chanu’s case. Doctors tend to over prescribe XRays and MRIs that do not pinpoint ’cause’ in over 85% of back pain cases leading to them being classified as non-specific back pain with no clear line of treatment despite the costs and health risks involved with the testing.”
Improper training and poor facilities could also be hampering India’s potential medal winners. “As a competitive athlete you always have the drive to do one more sprint, one more lift, or one more throw. Discomfort during training that does not go away, and often gets worse, means your core muscles are not maintaining your neutral zone in your spine. There is a fine line between safe training and pushing through pain,” adds Dr Garima Anandani, Clinical Director QI Spine Clinic.
Rubina Yadav, Haryana’s national high jump athlete, also made a creditable comeback, during the March 2019 Federation cup. She tied for first place with BS Supriya of Karnataka, clearing an identical height of 1.78m. A year ago however, in February 2018, her life had come to a standstill. During one of her regular training sessions, Yadav suffered a back injury which threatened to end her promising sports career.
“It was the most challenging and difficult phase of my life. I had to stop my training as I started experiencing sharp shooting pain in my lower back while attempting the high jump. I was trying hard but my performance was going down. I had to back out from Commonwealth Games trial and under 20 World Athletic Championship trials,” says Yadav who had broken a national record in high jump just a year earlier.
Rubina credits QI spine Clinic for her recovery. Three computer-controlled medical devices scanned her spine and back muscles in 16 different ways. This spine function test, also called a DSA revealed that Rubina had developed mechanical low back pain. The extensor muscles and flexors muscles in her lower back were weak and there was an imbalance between her left and right rotators which was the initial cause of the back pain.
Rubina underwent three months of intensive spine rehabilitation including core muscle strengthening, stretches and spine muscle strengthening that gradually helped her recover.
Rubina shares, “In those days I was constantly worried about my career. But the doctors at QI Spine have boosted my morale and given me physical, emotional, and psychological support to return back to sports.”
Other small-town heroines of India, such as Patiala’s discus throw champion Kamalpreet Kaur, who overcame back pain to win gold at the Federation cup and heptathlete Swapna Barman from Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district who won gold at the Commonwealth, also overcoming back pain; point to a trend.
Anuj Arenja however, is quick to say that we probably understand back pain better than ever before. “QI’s data intelligence has captured at least 50 to 60 data points for each patient at the diagnostic stage, for over 1 lac patients. Our data reveals that there are more than 100 different causes of back pain, commonly seen in India. And what may not look like back pain, may also be related to muscular complications involving the spine. The highly specialised spine function test we offer can ensure that the benefit of our data intelligence is available to all; and that our award winning athletes don’t bow out of important tournaments.”
According to a study published in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, titled ‘Prevalence of low back pain among athletes’ dated 25 October 2018, life-time prevalence of LBP among athletes ranges from 33% to 84%. However, there is a lack of sound data on the prevalence and mechanism of LBP in some popular sports such as volleyball, swimming and track and field.
Health Problems from Wearing Heels
Heels are one of those great inventions that make anything look fabulous, but is a torture device at the same time. Podiatrist have a distinct hatred for heels and the health problems it brings to the wearer. We wear heels as part of our professional attire or for fashion, but at the end of the day we all slump up on our sofa saying “my feet is killing me”. Who knows why we still allow ourselves to go through this torture, but wearing heels does make you feel a little bit more powerful.
Human feet are not designed to wear heels all the time. Our feet are designed at a 90 degree angle to fully support our frame, altering it to a 60 or 45 degree angle will alter the foot function and position causing health problems. Below are some of the health problems you will encounter from wearing heels overtime.
Heels will increase the pressure on your forefoot and making you adjust your posture to maintain balance. Your lower body will tend to lean forward as your lower body leans backward. Long period of keeping this position will affect the posture.
The back and spine have a normal S- curve that helps absorb shock and lessen pressure on the spine. Wearing heels will flatten this structure and alter the body’s positioning. This poor alignment will cause you to use more muscles, causing muscle pain and back pain. Posterior displacement can be fixed with the help of a medical professional.
Toe Pain and Ankle Pain
Wearing heels will increase the pressure that your toes and ankle face. Trying to balance out your body structure while wearing heels can wear down the joints in your ankles and cause muscles inflammation and calluses on the feet and toes.
Corns and Keratin Build-up
Corns and Keratin build-up will start to appear on the feet due to the pressure on the skin. Corn usually appears under the balls of the foot where most of the weight is pressed down. This corns will feel like small rocks and can cause discomfort.
Pinched nerves or neuromas can cause mild to severe pain to wearers in the future, leaving it untreated can cause severe damage in the future.
Crack on the Bones
Wearing heels for a long period of time will result in cracks in the bones of the feet and stress fractures.
Choose low heels that have a slightly thicker heel. This will allow more balance and spread the pressure on your feet.
Wear soft insoles. Wear rubber soled shoes instead of leather, this will absorb pressure better.
Wear heels when there is limited standing or walking. Bring flat shoes when commuting or walking for a long period of time.
Stretch every day, especially leg and calf stretches in the morning and at night.
Take in calcium supplements to make the bones stronger.
Wear heels are seldom as possible.
Obesity can impair learning, memory: Study
Obesity can break down our protective blood brain barrier resulting in problems with learning and memory, a study has found. Chronic activation of the receptor Adora2a on the endothelial cells that line this important barrier in our brain can let factors from the blood enter the brain and affect the function of our neurons, scientists said.
The team from Augusta University in the US have shown that when they block Adora2a in a model of diet-induced obesity, this important barrier function is maintained. “We know that obesity and insulin resistance break down the blood brain barrier in humans and animal models, but exactly how has remained a mystery,” said Alexis M Stranahan, neuroscientist at Augusta University and corresponding author of the study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
In the brain, adenosine is a neurotransmitter that helps us sleep and helps regulate our blood pressure; in the body it’s also a component of the cell fuel adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.Adenosine also activates receptors Adora1a and Adora2a on endothelial cells, which normally supports healthy relationships between brain activity and blood flow.
Problems arise with chronic activation, particularly in the brain, which is what happens with obesity, Stranahan said in a statement. People who have obesity and diabetes have higher rates of cognitive impairment as they age and most of the related structural changes are in the hippocampus, a centre of learning and memory.Fat is a source of inflammation and there is evidence that reducing chronic inflammation in the brain helps prevent obesity-related memory loss.
For the study, young mice fed a high-fat diet got fat within two weeks, and by 16 weeks they had increases in fasting glucose and insulin concentrations, all signs that diabetes is in their future. In the minute vasculature of the hippocampus, the researchers saw that obesity first increased permeability of the blood brain barrier to tiny molecules like fluorophore sodium fluorescein, or NaFl. Diet-induced insulin resistance heightened that permeability so that a larger molecule, Evans Blue, which has a high affinity for serum albumin, the most abundant protein in blood, also could get through.
When they looked with electron microscopy, they saw a changed landscape. Resulting diabetes promoted shrinkage of the usually tight junctions between endothelial cells and actual holes in those cells. When they gave a drug to temporarily block Adora2a, it also blocked problems with barrier permeability. Whether that could work in humans and long term as a way to avoid cognitive decline in obese humans, remains to be seen, Stranahan said.
‘Love hormone’ may help treat alcoholism, says study
A nasal spray of ‘love hormone’ oxytocin may help treat alcohol use disorder, according to a study conducted in mice.
Oxytocin plays a role in social bonding, sexual reproduction, childbirth, and the period after childbirth.
The study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, found that oxytocin blocks enhanced drinking in alcohol-dependent rats.
Targeting the oxytocin system may provide novel pharmaceutical interventions for the treatment of alcohol-use disorder, said researchers from the National Institutes of Health and The Scripps Research Institute in the US.
Administering oxytocin can decrease consumption, withdrawal symptoms, and drug-seeking behaviour associated with several drugs of abuse, researchers said in a statement.
This shows promise as a pharmacological approach to treat drug addiction, they said.
Researchers tested the hypothesis that oxytocin administration could normalise the maladaptive brain changes that occur in alcohol dependence and thereby reduce alcohol drinking in an established rat model of alcohol dependence.
They investigated oxytocin’s effects on dependence-induced alcohol consumption and altered signalling of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) – a key brain region in the network affected by alcohol dependence.
The experiments demonstrated that oxytocin administered systemically, intranasally or into the brain blocked excess drinking in alcohol-dependent but not in normal rats.
Moreover, oxytocin blocked GABA signalling in the CeA, researchers said.
Taken together, these results provide evidence that oxytocin likely blocks enhanced drinking by altering CeA GABA transmission.
These results provide evidence that aberrations in the oxytocin system may underlie alcohol use disorder, researchers said.
Targeting this system, possibly by intranasal administration, could prove a promising therapy in people who misuse alcohol, they said.
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