NATA Suggest Healthy Tips on How to Stay Sane During 'March Madness'

Certified Athletic Trainers (ATCs) Help Keep College Basketball Players and Fans Fit and Stress-Free

DALLAS, March 21 – March may come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, weather-wise. But when it comes to NCAA collegiate basketball, nothing could be further from the truth. With the early rounds now underway, America’s best Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball players are playing heated, back-to-back elimination games. The boiling point will be reached on April 4 in St. Louis for men and April 5 in Indianapolis for women, when the 2005 NCAA final playoffs culminate with the championships. As challenging as it is for the players, it can be a physically and emotionally draining time for basketball fans as well. No wonder the NCAA calls it “March Madness.” While NCAA certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are working behind the scenes to ensure players are in good health for tournament play, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), a not-for-profit organization that represents 30,000 members of the athletic training profession, has put together a list of tips for die-hard fans on how to weather the highs and lows as they watch their favorite teams compete. NATA’S “MARCH MADNESS” SURVIVAL TIPS

  • Create a “March Madness” daily exercise regimen based on what basketball players do to stay in shape – lots of stretching, cardiovascular activity, weight training, yoga, pilates and even ballet movements.
  • Burn off some pre-game energy by grabbing your kids, spouses and friends to shoot some hoops and get into the spirit.
  • Place small waste baskets around the TV room, so your guests can toss plush basketballs and crumbled paper into them whenever they have the urge.
  • Host “March Madness” potluck parties with the stipulation that everyone brings finger foods, entrees and desserts that are low-fat, low-cholesterol and heart-healthy. For beverages, serve a variety of smoothies containing fresh fruits and vegetables, and name them after your favorite teams.
  • Instead of watching all the games at home, visit your local gym if it’s televising the games, and root for the underdog from the treadmill or stationary bicycle.
  • Keep pace with your favorite teams; walk up and down your living room as you watch the games.
  • Create your own Final Four weekend basketball challenge. Round up the regulars for a dunk and dribble competition.
  • Track your team’s success through the regional brackets. Every time your team wins, do a victory lap around the block. If your team loses, do the same. It’s a great energy release either way.
  • Visualize success and imagine yourself cutting down the net in a championship game. It takes physical skill AND a positive mental attitude to truly be a winner.
  • If three weeks of games aren’t enough to satiate your appetite, host a basketball movie marathon and be sure to include “Hoosiers,” the 1986-classic film, starring Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper. MGM Home Entertainment has recently re-released a two-disc collectors’ edition DVD of the film.
  • Joseph Sharpe, ATC, CSCS, PES, head athletic trainer, Charlotte Bobcats, and former head athletic trainer of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team (including a ’99 championship) helped compile this list along with Marjorie J. Albohm, MS, ATC, LAT, who served as the ATC on “Hoosiers.”

Albohm remembers that during the filming of the movie, one of the actors playing a basketball player significantly sprained his ankle. “I treated him daily and reported his daily status to the director, just as I would to a head coach,” she says. She believes that "Rehabilitation: Accelerated Return to Activity,” the theme of National Athletic Training Month, which takes place in March, will resonate with both college basketball players and their fans alike. “Remember to warm up and cool down before any exercise, adds Sharpe. “And always listen to your body. If you feel a pain or strain, stop and consult a medical professional. After all, you don’t want to be sidelined in the off-season.” About the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA): Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. March is National Athletic Training Month. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax).

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