According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a concussion is a type of brain injury that is caused a blow or bump to the head or body which disrupts the way the cells in the brain typically work. A concussion may result in impaired thinking, memory problems, emotional or behavioural change.
Why am I writing about concussion? Because it is a type of injury that is likely to happen in contact sports such as rugby and basketball, but yet it is treated with less importance or simply ignored as compared to other injuries that affect the performance of the athletes.
The American National Football league (NFL) are currently embroiled in a lawsuit termed the “NFL concussion settlement” with thousands of retired NFL players claiming that many of them are at a higher risk of certain medical conditions such as dementia and brain injury which were associated with concussions incurring during their playing years (New York Times, 2014). This shows that the dangers of concussions are evident and may affect us permanently if we do not address them properly.
The signs and symptoms include;
- Headaches or “pressure” in head
- Vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Balance problems or dizziness
Conclusion: Some symptoms may be immediately while others may appear later. If you suspect that you have a concussion, stop all sporting and other physical activity and seek medical attention immediately. Your brain needs to heal with rest before you can slowly and gradually return to your daily activities. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first can slow down recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States of America (2013, July 03). Concussion. Facts about concussion and brain injury: Where to get help. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/pdf/Fact_Sheet_ConcussTBI-a.pdf
New York Times (2014, June 25). N.F.L. Makes Open-Ended Commitment to Retirees in Concussion Suit. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/sports/football/nfl-makes-open-ended-commitment-to-retirees-in-concussion-suit.html?_r=0
It is common for people to experience some form of muscular pain or discomfort about 16-24 hours after an intense workout. This phenomenon is called delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and it usually peaks about 24-48 hours post-exercise before starting to diminish. The severity depends on fitness level of individuals and workout intensity. Though normally it will disappear within 72 hours, it may last several days in cases of more severe damage.
The main cause of DOMS is muscle fibre damage that may include tension-induced disruption of the sacromeres and sarcolemma, and increased intracellular calcium. Eccentric contractions are much more likely to cause DOMS than static or concentric muscle contractions. DOMS is often associated with resistance exercises but endurance-type exercises with a significant eccentric component (for example, running downhill) can cause DOMs as well. So for strength athletes looking into using resistance exercises for their cardio workout but would rather not induce further muscle damage, they could consider eccentric-less exercises such as sled pushing/pulling and medicine ball throws.
The most effective means of reducing DOMS is to exercise regularly. This repeated bout effect explains that even a single bout of exercise has a significant protective effect against DOMS during subsequent bouts of similar exercise. Therefore, it is important to engage in regular exercise as well as active recovery in-between sessions. Apart from working out regularly and avoiding long breaks (more than 1-2 weeks), I would go for a swim or play basketball at an easy-moderate pace on my rest days as part of my recovery.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and muscle cream/rub reduce the pain associated with DOMS but longer-term use may be counter-effective. It would be advisable to avoid regular use of such drugs.
Antonio, J., Kalman, D., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Willoughby, D. S., & Haff, G. G. (Eds.). (2008). Skeletal Muscle Plasticity. In A. Chromiak, J.A. and Antonio, J (Eds.), Essentials of sports nutrition and supplements (pp. 40-41). Chapter Humana Press.
All information presented on this site is meant for general purposes. It is not meant to replace health and medical advice from healthcare professionals.