Sleep: An Essential Ingredient to Maximize Sports Performance

By: Sara Rau, DPT

Sleep1When athletes think about ways to improve their athletic performance, they usually think of training, diet and maybe even supplements.  But many don’t realize that sleep is just as important to their performance.  It is recommended that athletes get at least 1 hour of extra sleep than what is recommended of their non-athlete peers.  This can be achieved by going to bed earlier or even taking a nap.

Studies have shown that adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep/night to reach their peak performance.  However, more sleep is essential for cognitive and physical development of children.  School-aged children ages 6-13 years old require 9-11 hours and teens require 8-10 hours of sleep per night.  This is because the human growth hormone is only secreted during sleep.  This hormone repairs the body as well as is a key factor for growth and development both cognitively and physically.

Sleep2Some studies have looked specifically at the effect of sleep on athletic performance.  They found that an increase in sleep improved speed, reaction time, accuracy of skills, mood, vigor and decreased fatigue.  On the flip side, a lack of sleep can cause slower reaction time, mood disturbances and fatigue.

So in order to help maximize your athletic performance, try these tips:

  • Try to increase your sleep time either with going to bed earlier or taking a nap in the afternoon. Be careful not to take a nap that is too long or too close to bed time to affect your night-time sleep.
  • Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule during the week and keep as close to the same schedule as possible during the weekend.
  • Get yourself in the habit of doing the same routine before you go to bed. This will teach your body that it’s bedtime and get ready to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine later in the day to avoid affecting your sleep at night.
  • Don’t eat, drink or exercise within a few hours of going to bed. Avoid procrastination and try to finish your homework early to give yourself time to rest your brain before going to sleep.  Try to do calm, quiet activities before bed.
  • Keep a sleep journal or to-do list near your bed. Write down things that are on your mind so that you will have a greater ability to stop worrying or stressing to enable sleep.


Blumert PA, Crum AJ, Ernsting M, Volek JS, Hollander DB, Haff EE, Haff GG.  The acute effects of twenty-four hours of sleep loss on the performance of national-caliber male collegiate weightlifters.  J Strength & Cond Res. 2007;21(4):1146-1154

Mah CD, Mah KE, Kezirian EJ, Dement WC.  The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players.  SLEEP.  2011;34(7):943-950.

Scott JPR, McNaughton LR, Polman RCJ.  Effects of sleep deprivation and exercise on cognitive, motor performance and mood.  Physiology & Behavior. 2006;87:396-408.

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Pilates Program: 6-Week Program for Athletes

Pilates ProgramFor young athletes, a well-rounded strength and conditioning program can improve sports performance and reduce the risk of injury.  The benefits of Pilates include: improved posture, relaxation and stress management, injury prevention, increased core strength, increased body awareness, and improved recovery after injury. At CHKD, we know that cross-training and exposing children to various types of training can lead to lifelong changes.

This class meets twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays for six weeks.

Register at

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Exercises for a Strong Dancer

By: Erica Walters, DPT

Psoas Isolations – Have the dancer in long-sitting with upright posture.  The dancer turns one leg into attitude.  While having the dancer palpate the psoas, the dancer lifts the leg off the table.  The dancer then holds for a count of 3 seconds before returning to start position.  Repeat 10-15 reps on both sides.

**Performed every day for 6 weeks has been shown to increase developpé height by 6 inches

Psoas Isolation

End position of the leg


Long-sit Turnout – Have the dancer in long-sitting with upright posture.  The dancer places TheraBand around both ankles and abducts legs until resistance is placed through the band.  The dancer then externally rotates legs and returns to parallel.  Repeat for 20-30 reps.

Long-sit Turnout

End position without Theraband


Hip Flexion Holds – Have the dancer in single leg stance.  The dancer grabs one knee with both hands and brings it up to chest.  The dancer then releases the knee without letting it drop.  Begin with a hold time of 15 seconds for 2-3 reps.  Repeat on other side.

**Can also be performed as attitude holds.

Attitude Hold

Attitude Hold


Grand plié – Have the dancer perform a grand plié in 1st position.  Once 1st position is easy and painfree progress to 5th position.  Have the dancer begin on the floor.  Once technique looks good, change the surface to an Airex or foam pad.  Repeat 15-20 times.

2nd Position

5th Position

1st Position

1st Position


Airplanes – Have the dancer begin in single leg stance.  The dancer then places non-stance leg into arabesque with both arms out to the side in a “T” position.  The dancer then rotates in one direction to reach the floor, returns to center, and then rotates in the opposite direction.  A rotation to each side counts as 1 rep.  Repeat 6-8 reps on each leg.

Start position

Start position


Side gait in relevé – Have the dancer in standing with a TheraBand around both ankles.  Patient then raises into relevé (up on both toes) and proceeds to walk sideways.  Have the dancer walk from one end of the room to the other and back for 1 rep.  Repeat 2-3 times.

Start position without Theraband

Start position without Theraband


Relevé with ball squeeze – Have the dancer in double leg stance.  Place a tennis ball between both ankles and have the dancer turn out into a modified 1st position.  The dancer then squeezes the ball between the ankles while raising up into relevé.  Return to start position and repeat for 20-30 reps.

Releve with Ball Squeeze

Relevé with Ball Squeeze


The exercises listed above are just a few of the exercises used for strengthening the dancer patient.  Proper technique must be achieved with all exercises in order for the patient to see a benefit.  If any exercise cannot be performed with proper technique, do not have the dancer continue with that exercise.



Grossman G. Dance medicine: Strategies for the prevention and care of injuries to dancers: The dancer’s hip: Anatomic, biomechanical, and rehabilitation considerations. APTA; 2008.

Liederbach M. Dance medicine: Strategies for the prevention and care of injuries to dancers: Common knee injuries in dance. APTA; 2008.

Molnar M, Bornstein R, Hartog M, et al. Dance medicine: Strategies for the prevention and care of injuries to dancers: Foot and ankle injuries in the dancer: Examination and treatment strategies. APTA; 2008.

Wilmerding V, Krasnow D. Turnout for dancers: Hip anatomy and factors affecting turnout. IADMS. 2011; 1-7.

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One Big Upside of Sports Participation

By: Eric McClung, ATC

There is certainly a copious amount of information available on the harm that can and does occur in the course of sports participation.  Even worse, teens are being diagnosed with mental health issues now more than we have ever seen.  A survey done by the World Health Organization sited that depression is the number one cause of illness and disability worldwide.  The study states that furthermore, half of the students surveyed reported experiencing symptoms for the first time at the age of 14.

Stressed Adolescent

The mental health benefits of exercise in general are fairly easy to find.  The Mayo Clinic reports that as little as 30 minutes of activity can increase hormone secretions that improve mood.  Several resources discuss the release of endorphins during exercise, a hormone that can cause the “runner’s high” or euphoric feelings after exercise.  Increasing activity also increases blood flow to the brain, which helps with focus and memory.  Many of the studies out there focus on adults.  However, according to a recent study by the University of Toronto, teens that participated in sports from the ages of 12-17 reap benefits up to four years later.

The study, entitled “School Sport Participation During Adolescence and Mental Health in Early Adulthood”, appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2014.  The study surveyed 850 students during each year of secondary school about their participation in school athletics.  Three years after they graduated, the same students were surveyed again, but this time about their overall mental health, feelings of depression, and anxiety.  The researchers found a statistical significance between the students that played school sports and better scores on all three questions.  A quote by the lead author , Catherine M. Sabiston, PhD, in the publication Science Daily indicates that it may not only be the biochemical reaction of the body to exercise, but also to the social aspect of being a part of a team.  The interaction between peers and with involved adults also seems to be beneficial.  Jack Raglin, PhD, a Kinesiology professor at Indiana University, comments in the same Science Daily article that there is also the element of “mastery and accomplishment that result from gaining a sports skill.”

Volleyball Team

Soccer Team






While this is only one study, it is longitudinal with a large population, which does grant it some greater credibility.  The researchers also chose to focus on school sports participation only, just to narrow the scope.  That was a limit to the study, but it does not seem to be a leap to consider that those engaged in club sports, that may or may not be offered at the school, or even the student that takes a group fitness class at private gym or recreation center.

So, encourage your student to find a physical activity that they find fun.   They will certainly be healthier and they may even become happier.

Girls Running


Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. “Mental health wins when teens play school sports.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2014. <>

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How To Prevent Snowboarding Injuries

By: Beth Runzo, DPT

It’s that time of year again!  Time to hit the slopes!  Every year the number of snowboarders increase.  In 2000, 4.3 million people engaged in this sport.  In 2010, the number increased to 6.1 million.  Snowboarding is a relatively safe sport if the proper equipment is used and the participant is in good fitness health.  However, injuries and fatalities do occur.  The NSAA (National Ski Areas Association) reported in the 2011/12 season there were 12 fatalities (10 male, 2 female).

Cardio, strength and flexibility are important in the sport of snowboarding.  When traveling downhill on the slopes your body will be in a position of bent knees with your legs active and your core engaged.  Preparing your body for this type of activity will help to decrease the risk of injury.

Listed below is a description of a circuit that can help you prepare for the slopes.  As with any fitness program, if you have health concerns, consult your physician prior to beginning.

Pullups1) Pull ups: Grasp the pull up bar with palms facing away from you and about shoulder width apart. Pull yourself up until your arms are fully bent.  Repeat 5 times.


2) Squat: Keeping your back straight and head in neutral position bend your knees and squat down until legs are parallel with the ground. Make sure your knees remain in line with your ankles.  Repeat 20 times.  To improve balance, perform this exercise on one leg at a time.


3) Planks: Lie on your stomach on the ground.  Raise your body up onto your forearms and toes.  Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.  Repeat 5 times.

Lunges4) Lunges: In a standing position, step forward with your right foot.  Lower your body until the forward knee is bent to 90 degrees.  Your knee should be in line with your ankle.  Straighten your legs and return to the starting standing position.  Repeat 30 times on both sides.

Plyometric Lunges5) Plyometric lunges: Perform a lunge as stated above. When in the down position, push up into a jump and land in a lunge position with the opposite leg forward.  Maintain the correct knee alignment.  Repeat 20 times.

Chops6) Chopping wood: Hold a light weight (about 3-5 pounds) with both hands at your right hip.  Raise your hands across your body above the opposite shoulder.  Return your hands back to your right hip.  Also complete this exercise moving from the left hip to the right shoulder.  Repeat 25 times.

As with any exercises program, if the exercises produce pain do not continue.  These exercises will help you to be prepared for the movements your body will experience while snowboarding.  Have fun and be safe!


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