Wellness programs provide professional support

A recent article in The Bulletin told the story of a 6-year-old boy who, along with his mother and others, was rescued at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard. The group was escaping oppressive conditions in Haiti 18 years ago.  The young man decided that he would eventually serve in the Coast Guard like his rescuers.  Last week, he graduated from the Coast Guard Academy as an officer.

This story exemplifies the fact that children are impressionable and often emulate both the positive and negative behaviors of adults.  Health and fitness habits are no exception.

More than 60 million Americans are considered obese or overweight.  This epidemic has carried over to the pediatric population and the connection is more than coincidence.  The solution may be establishing healthier role models.

The transition to a healthy lifestyle often requires professional support. Wellness programs provide a variety of options for comprehensive diet, exercise and stress management.

Wellness councilors serve as coaches through what is hopefully a dramatic change for the individual and their entire family.  Although the approach is multidisciplinary, exercise is a crucial element.

Regular fitness activities can reduce stress by providing an outlet.  Both aerobic and resistive exercise can improve sleep habits and reduce food cravings.  Many people have used regular exercise as a substitute for smoking.

“Wellness programs are designed to re-energize a person’s life by attaining health goals and managing risk factors for chronic disease,” said Sheri McNally, a local wellness counselor who provides programs for employers.  McNally utilizes Skype, email and telephone conversations in addition to personal attention to support participants.

Many people are concerned with the financial legacy they will leave their heirs.  A legacy of good health by setting an example may have the greatest value of all.

The curious case of turf toe

Toe injuries are not often associated with the need to remove an athlete from a contest. Turf toe is a painful foot injury that has pushed athletes to the sideline for extended recovery periods.

The human foot is divided into three basic sections: the hindfoot (heel), the midfoot (arch), and the forefoot (toes).  Turf toe affects the forefoot.

Turf toe involves the first metatarsalphalangeal joint.  This joint is the connection between the great toe and the bone that anchors it to the foot.  Like other sprains, it consists of damage to the connective tissues that stabilize the moving parts.

The mechanism of injury consists of the sudden, extreme dorsiflexion (upward bending) of the great toe.  The force results in stretching and tearing ligaments beyond their normal range of motion.  Cartilage can also be injured in more severe trauma.

Inflammation follows with swelling and pain.  Initial treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation.

This type of injury usually involves an activity on a firm surface.  Turf toe is most common in football.  The recent popularity of artificial turf over natural turf is part of the reason for the rise in cases.  A force applied to the calf muscle while the knee is flexed is another cause of turf toe.

“The injury is primarily mechanical in nature and so is the treatment.  Putting the foot in a more rigid shoe or an orthotic device will avoid further injury,” said Dr. Joseph DiFrancesca, a Norwich podiatrist who treats many athletes with turf toe.  He also believes that careful selection of athletic shoes with a rigid shank will reduce injury rates.

The healing process for turf toe can take several weeks.  Unfortunately, an early return to activity without sufficient healing can lead to a chronic debilitating injury