Atlantic Coast Chiropractic

Sports Mania vs Fitness

The Western diet and sedentary lifestyle have resulted in a

lack of fitness among those who do not make a concerted

effort. Yet, many times those efforts prove unsuccessful

because they are not sustainable lifestyle changes. For this

reason, there is a huge difference between sports mania and

actual fitness.


What is Sports Mania?

We should first define the word mania. While it can mean

“an excessive enthusiasm or desire; an obsession” it can also

mean “mental illness marked by periods of great excitement,

and overactivity.”

Oftentimes the recognition that we are lacking in fitness

causes an extreme shift. We go from being completely

sedentary to overly active. We jump into a new fitness craze

with both feet and go completely overboard. This is what

could be considered sports mania. The severe overcorrection

that can lead to a drastic uptick in activity, a radical shift that

cannot be sustained for a long period of time.


What is Fitness?

Fitness is defined as “health” but also “capability of the body

to distribute inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased

physical effort”. In other words, true fitness is wellness and

the ability to stay well during extreme exertion. To an extent,

we could also use the word “stamina” in this instance and still

be accurate.

Fitness isn’t something that can be achieved overnight, it

requires making a concerted effort to fuel our bodies right

and then burn that fuel reasonably, sensibly and responsibly.


The Dangers of Sports Mania

Many times, sports mania is the result of an overreaction

to a fitness dilemma. A healthcare professional gives us

a dire warning about our health and we overreact. While

exercise is wise and, when done properly, is good for us;

that overreaction will result in manic sport involvement

which may result in injuries.

Primary care physicians are always encouraging their

patients to be more active and develop an exercise routine

or regimen, which is clearly good advice. This has created a

rise in popularity of endurance events and gym-based fitness

classes that, while beneficial, can be dangerous. The danger

lies in moving too quickly from a sedentary existence to an

extremely physical one.

In 1989, classes involving high-intensity stationary cycling or

“spinning” were introduced in California and over the next 10

years became incredibly popular. This form of exercise helps

burn calories while building cardiovascular endurance, but

not all are ready for it. There are reported cases of previously

healthy adults developing rhabdomyolysis after spin classes.

Rhabdomyolysis is the result of damage to the striated

muscle cell membranes which releases calcium, potassium,

phosphate, urate myglobin and other minerals into the

blood which can cause further muscle damage resulting in

acute renal failure.

This same injury has also reportedly occurred during

other high-intensity workouts such as P90X and CrossFit.

Programs that involve overtraining are rarely sustainable and

may be dangerous for those that are not prepared for the

rigorous training.

Of course, this is obviously the more dramatic risk involved in

sports mania, but joint damage, soft tissue injuries and other

physical injuries are not uncommon when the body is not

prepared to drastically change from sedentary to active.


Children Equally Affected

We’ve all read the reports that childhood obesity and thus

pediatric type-2 diabetes diagnosis are on the rise. It’s also

true that children need to spend less time in front of a

screen and more time outside playing. What they don’t

need, is to be over-scheduled to the point of physical and

mental exhaustion.

Just as sports mania has its risks for adults, doctors have

begun to see a significant increase in sports-related overuse

injuries in children in the past several years. Overuse injuries

occur gradually over time, but the danger arises when

children aren’t given time for those injuries to heal properly.

Overuse injuries occur in a wide range of sports, but some

are more specific. For instance, throwing injuries will typically

affect the elbow and shoulder but shoulder injuries are also

prevalent in swimmers. Because children’s bones are still

growing these injuries may have future consequences.

“Any sport can produce an overuse injury,” explained Dr. Cynthia LaBella, medical director of the Institute for Sports Medicine at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “Overuse injuries are increasing for a couple of reasons. Sports are much more competitive at an earlier age, and many children are playing one sport year-round now. They’re not getting enough time off for their bodies to recover. Or, they might be playing three sports at once, and what that amounts to is that they never get a day off.”

Safe and Effective Fitness

The safest fitness regimen is going to be the European

model, where getting outside and walking, hiking or biking

is routine. In the European Union, almost half of the adult

population spends at least 2 ½ hours per week of their

leisure time doing physical activities, which is the minimum

level of physical activities recommended by the World

Health Organization.

Fitness is achieved when the body is fueled properly

and then used properly for a reasonable amount of time.

Going for a 30 to 45-minute walk at least three times

a week will have clear results: better health, increased

stamina, improved sleep and even enhanced cognitive

thinking and acuity.

Avoid Extremes

This is not meant to say that participating in sports is

bad for you or your child’s health but, as in all things,

moderation is key. Whether the sport itself is extreme

(high-risk skateboarding or snowboard) or the time spent

at the sport is extreme (3 to 5 games a week or frequent

participation), anything done in excess is not only not safe

but also not beneficial. Again, follow the European model:

they don’t do extremes.

Dr. Michael Kelly, chairman of the department of

orthopedic surgery at Hackensack University Medical

Center in New Jersey, said that while it’s a lot healthier for

the body to “cross train” with different sports, many kids

today focus on just one sport. In the past, children played

football and then when that season was over they might play

basketball or softball. This allowed the body to get a break

and avoided repetitive injuries.

Because they’re still growing, children are more susceptible

to repetitive injuries. Sports mania is resulting in more

surgeries being performed on the pediatric population

including repairing of ACL Tears and Meniscus Tears, a

surgery normally performed on adults in their 60’s and 70’s


The Chiropractic Factor

The issue of sports mania vs fitness has its foundation in our

culture of extremes. When we consider what fitness was

back in the 50’s and 60’s, the past 50 years have not done

us any favors. We are not healthier as a society. We’ve gone

into so many different extremes and the result is increased

injuries and a lack of wellness.

From a chiropractic perspective, these extremes are

damaging joints and resulting in overuse injuries that have

not been seen in the past. Children are requiring surgeries

that used to be associated with old age. What does this

mean for adults 20 or 30 years from now? Someone in their

50’s may be experiencing a lack of mobility and function that

is typical for someone in their 80’s. Decisions made in their

childhood and early adulthood may have consequences

affecting the rest of their lives; lost mobility for the back half

of their life.

If you genuinely want to make a change to a more wellness

lifestyle that includes better nutrition and physical activity,

then be sure to ask your Family Wellness Chiropractor for

recommendations. Your Doctor of Chiropractic can suggest

ways for you to gradually move from sedentary to active and

avoid the dangers of “extremes”.

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