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Adventure Magazine

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First Responder
In the ever diversifying world of outdoor sports, we all hit a few road blocks en route to peak performance. First Responder, a monthly column in our new Performance section, seeks to demystify the everyday snags that miff your game.


Should I wear wrist guards while snowboarding and a knee brace while skiing to protect my hinges?

"There's no evidence to support the use of prophylactic knee braces for skiing," says John Nyland, assistant professor of sports medicine at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky. Instead, Nyland recommends protecting the knee by strengthening it. Plyometric (jump training) programs simulate skiing movements, building leg muscles and teaching the body to better position itself to protect ligaments in the knee. As for snowboarders: "Wrist guards are a good idea for beginners," says Craig Young, M.D., director of sports medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. In addition, Wilderness Medical Society member Christopher Van Tilburg, M.D., suggests that snowboarders learn to fall properly—by making a fist at the first sign of instability and using their arms to cushion, not break, a fall. "You just don't want to fall on your outstretched hand," says Young. "That's where the injury occurs."


Can you be fat and fit?

"Absolutely," says Tim Church, M.D., medical director of the Cooper Institute in Dallas. "In recent years, we've come to find that the common assumption that fit people are skinny and unfit people are fat is false." According to Church, he and his colleagues came to this conclusion after an examination of the Institute's 70,000-patient database (the largest of its kind in the world) revealed that fit, overweight patients are less likely to die prematurely than thinner, out-of-shape individuals. "These findings have huge public health implications," says Church. Still, the heftiest among us should note that the Institute's database lacks information on individuals more than 60 pounds (27 kilograms) overweight. "I suspect that's where the theory that you can be fat and fit falls apart," says Church.

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Send your health and performance questions to adventure@ngs.org, subject line: First Responder, and we'll bring back answers from the experts. Just e-mail us >>

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November 2004

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