Where’s your favorite place to run? Ask ten people and their results probably vary as much as the different types of shoes they sport while doing so. As a recreational runner myself, I stick to my trail running like I stick to my Asics—invariably. Being an athletic trainer, though, has made me concerned about my joints and longevity of this activity. And so I began wondering, what surface is best? I searched high and low, looking through published research articles and running magazines alike, and here are the most well-founded and useful tidbits I came across:
• Overall, grass is king. It is soft, has a good amount of give, and thus provides the lowest impact forces of all the typical running surfaces. Unfortunately by its nature, grass has a tendency to hide obstacles like rocks or holes and is slippery when wet so consider the quality of the ground before lacing up.
• Next best are trails that are made of ground/natural materials (woodchips, dirt, or that stuff that looks like kitty-litter [think American Tobacco Trail]). Trails can be a great way to mix it up and get closer to nature. In the summer months, they are an especially valuable option because trails that run through wooded areas are often much cooler. However, variables such as roots and snakes are cause to be on the lookout. Also, I would be careful of running on trails the day or two after significant rainfall because it loosens the running surface and can often leave channels in the trails that are dangerous to unprepared runners.
• If you have to, pavement will do but try not to run on banked surfaces and make sure you have a supportive shoe that is in good condition.
• Sand is a unique option that has its benefits if you are fortunate enough to find yourself at the beach. Loose sand easily dissipates the energy of your foot strike and challenges your leg musculature in ways harder surfaces cannot. If you choose to run closer to the water where the sand is more compact, pay attention because that is often where the steepest banking is, which can put uneven pressure on your joints.
• Variety is also beneficial, but ease into new training mediums. The different surfaces stress various muscle groups which can help with overall performance. If afforded different options such as track, trail, and treadmill; take advantage of them.
• If you’re more competitive and/or aiming for a race, it would benefit you to have your training mimic the race. This includes the running surface. If you know ahead of time that you’re going to running on pavement, increase the proportion of your running on similar surfaces as you get closer to race day.
• At the end of the day, as long as it’s even, debris-free, and dry, you’re probably good to go. Your body adjusts to the surface automatically after the first few steps by changing how much you flex your knees while running to absorb the shock. If you are truly a distance runner and really rack up the miles, it’s better to be kind to your joints and go for a softer surface if you have the option to do so.
When it comes down to it, there is considerable research on the forces experienced by the joints when running on various surfaces, which can have an impact (pun kind-of intended) in the long run (nailed it). However, you’d be hard pressed to find a study that directly relates any one kind consistently to injury, and so there is still room for question and a lot we don’t know. Take the above tips with a grain of salt and ultimately rely on your body’s feedback to guide your running choices. If you find yourself in a performance rut or with constant aches in the confines of your running routine, maybe it’s time to branch out and blaze a new trail (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). Happy running!
Alex Vitek is a nationally Certified, state Licensed Athletic Trainer and post-graduate Resident in training at The Galland Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Athletic Training Residency– a 12 month immersional program allowing ATCs to maintain and hone clinical skills while developing those talents necessary to be effective in the clinical setting as an ATC/physician extender. Find out more at www.atcfellowship.com
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“Dr. Mark Galland, lead physician at Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina (OSNC), has announced that the practice has partnered with St. Mary’s School in Raleigh to provide on-site care and treatment to student-athletes at school sporting events. OSNC personnel will be present for the school’s sporting events and will be responsible for treatment to athletic injuries.”
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Bulletproof coffee has taken the paleo world by storm. Not me, though.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for people dropping grass-fed butter and coconut/MCT oil into their high-quality coffee, blending it all up into a high-octane mug of frothiness, but I just can’t get into it. If we’re talking coffee additives, I prefer my butter in the form of cream. That’s me. I definitely see the appeal of it, though, and I’m sold on the merits of the drink and its components. It’s just not for me.
However, the idea of adding non-traditional fatty food items to coffee intrigued me, so I decided to explore other options. Eventually, I landed on eggs.
Egg yolks are excellent emulsifiers. There’s the egg yolk lecithin, a famous emulsifier, plus several different egg yolk proteins with emulsification properties. Good yolks are prized by top chefs around the world primarily for their emulsifying ability. Egg yolks smooth out sauces, salad dressings, and relations between bitter enemies like oil and water. That’s right: egg yolks are the great unifiers of the food world. Throw some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a bowl, whisk it all together, and you’ll have a lovely stratified bowl of fluids of different shades. Oh, they might appear to blend together into a dressing for a second or two, but once you look away, the old immutable divisions will rear their heads and the dressing will disappear. Add an egg yolk or two, though? You’ll get a silky smooth salad dressing that remains so for time immemorial.
If you don’t have a blender but still want a smooth, creamy coffee drink, hand-frothing an egg yolk with a fork or whisk will get you there. Hand-frothing butter and coconut oil requires vigorous labor and may not even achieve full emulsification.
Eggs are incredible sources of micronutrients. While I love grass-fed butter, cream, and coconut oil, they aren’t exactly micronutrient-dense. The best butter contains beneficial nutrients like vitamin A, omega-3s, vitamin K2, and butyric acid, while coconut oil is a unique source of medium chain triglycerides, but for the most part we eat those foods because they are sources of stable, healthful saturated fats. They provide energy. Egg yolks, on the other hand, are baby bird building blocks. They contain everything you need to build an entire working animal from scratch – all the vitamins, minerals, protein, and fatty acids that make life work. And, if you get a pastured egg – which you should if you know what’s good for (and your omelets) – your yolk will be supercharged, with extra choline, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin K2, omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and beta-carotene from all the bugs and greens the chickens ate.
I love eggs, particularly the yolks, and enjoy adding them to everything. They’re a solid, dependable, go-to breakfast item, they’re good for you, and they taste great. What more can you want? That’s why they ended up on my list of foods I couldn’t live without, and that’s why they ended up in my coffee. In the end, I just love eggs, and since I already add them to just about everything, I figured “why not coffee?”
Are there any potential problems with adding eggs to coffee?
Oxidation springs to mind. Not only are you subjecting egg yolks to heat, you’re also whipping oxygen into them. It seems like the perfect storm of lipid oxidation, no?
I’m actually not too worried. First of all, the coffee really isn’t very hot. It’s well under boiling.
Second, coffee is a rich source of antioxidants – you know, those things whose primary job is to prevent oxidation. Whereas bathing fragile fats in a boiling bath of water might promote oxidation, coffee is essentially an antioxidant-rich broth. Marinating meats in herbs, wine, and citrus juice seems to prevent oxidation, and I’d bet that coffee can have similarly protective effects. Drinking coffee sure protects LDL particles from oxidation via incorporation of coffee polyphenols into said LDL particles; why wouldn’t coffee polyphenols frothed up with egg yolk offer similar protections to egg phospholipids?
Third, the actual blending/frothing only takes place for a few seconds. It’s relatively short-lived, probably not long enough to be a problem.
Fourth, the vitamin E in egg yolks is there to prevent oxidation. It’s quite good at it. Coincidentally, this is why you should get pastured eggs if possible. The yolks of pastured eggs contain upwards of four times the vitamin E found in standard battery egg yolks.
What about raw egg white’s tendency to bind biotin? Raw egg whites have the well-publicized ability to bind biotin (found in the yolk) and prevent its absorption. Luckily, the binding ability of avidin begins to break down at 158 ºF (70 ºC) and is almost completely degraded at 185 ºF (85 ºC). Since coffee is ideally brewed with water running between 190 and 200 ºF, the finished product should be able to keep avidin from binding your biotin.
But why eggs and coffee?
I stumbled upon something I had never heard of until recently – Vietnamese Egg Coffee – and decided to experiment in the kitchen.
Now, let’s get right to the recipes themselves. As you’ll see, they’re not all that complex. You’re basically just adding eggs or egg yolks to coffee. Still, though, read on to see exactly how I did it.
Primal Egg Yolk Coffee
I did a little playing around with this and tried several different recipes. In the end, I think I came up with a solid recipe.
1 1/2 cup (350 ml) coffee
3 pastured egg yolks
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp of salt
First, I brewed the coffee (35 grams of coffee beans – I used a light roast, single-origin bean) in a French press. Dumped the grinds in, added about 350 ml of water, gave it a quick stir, covered it, and let it sit for three minutes. Meanwhile, I separated the yolks from the whites. Once the coffee was ready, I dumped it in a blender, set it to “low,” and dropped in the yolks. After a few seconds, I added a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt (around a quarter teaspoon) and let it blend a bit more. Then, I poured it, admired the head of foam, and got to drinking.
I tried fewer yolks and found the brew too thin. I tried more yolks and found it to be unnecessary. Three yolks was perfect. If you want to switch things up, you can add something a little sweet like I did. I added my usual teaspoon of sugar, plus a quarter teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt. Honey, maple syrup, or stevia should all work well, too. The salt may sound odd, but trust me: it just works as long as you use a little sweetness to counterbalance it.
Primal Whole Egg Coffee
Think of this as a whole foods-based protein shake.
1 cup (240 ml) coffee
2 pastured eggs
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
I started by beating the eggs together, whole, as if you were making scrambled eggs. You could also blend them. For a 1 cup dose of coffee, I did two whole eggs. Once the eggs are beaten or blended, slowly drizzle in the coffee. You don’t want to cook the eggs. You want them to stay creamy. If you’re really concerned about the avidin in the raw white, dump the coffee in to ensure maximal heat exposure. Otherwise, just drizzle.
I think a higher egg:coffee ratio (using a large shot of espresso, for example) for a stronger coffee flavor would work really well. Also, two eggs in this recipe created a nice and creamy concoction. I suspect three eggs might even be better.
Again, I added a little sweetener plus some salt. It made the coffee taste a bit like a liquified custard. Really, really tasty.
Adding Other Ingredients
I also tried out a few other additions to the brews, to see how they meshed with the eggs. Consider adding these:
Cinnamon – Goes great with coffee, provides insulin sensitizing benefits.
Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory spice, works well with cinnamon.
Vanilla – Tastes good, smells better. May have anti-inflammatory effects. Also works well with cinnamon (but not so much with turmeric).
Butter and coconut oil – If you dig Bulletproof coffee, adding egg yolks makes it even better.
In the course of research for this post, I ingested five eggs plus five extra yolks along with several cups of moderately strong coffee. I don’t know if it was just an excessive amount of coffee or if the caffeine was potentiated by the phospholipids in the yolks, but I felt like I was under the influence of… something. Although it was a good feeling, a productive feeling, to be sure, I could see it getting out of hand if taken too far. This is potent stuff. A cup or two is probably ideal, at least for me.
“Sugar – really?”
Don’t worry about a little sugar, even the white stuff. The amount I added, a teaspoon, is just four grams of sucrose. And, if you use an actual food like honey or maple syrup, which have different (improved) metabolic effects compared to plain white sugar, the potential downsides of ingesting sugar are lessened even more. Besides, you can always use a non-caloric sweetener like stevia, which has its own set of benefits.
Since writing this article a few weeks back, I’ve begun rotating egg yolk coffee into my morning routine. I don’t have it every day, but do have it several times a week, particularly if I have a busy day ahead of me where optimal productivity is required. Whole egg coffee seems to work well pre-workout, boosting energy, motivation, and providing a nice source of branched-chain amino acids for the training ahead.
What about you, folks? Want to give this a shot? Ever tried this yourself? Got any tips to improve my recipes? If you do try it, let me know in the comment section how it works out!
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Dr. Galland was recently quoted in seven articles on ScarySymptoms.com , a website created to provide answers to symptom questions on the Internet. Dr. Galland discusses a number of topics on the website, including knee arthroscopy, causes of sharp, stabbing pain in the knee when walking, questions to ask a surgeon prior to knee arthroscopy, shoulder blade pain coming from the neck, causes for pain in the collar bone and whether or not deep squats can hurt the knee.
To view the articles, visit:
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Look out barefoot running and toe shoes, there’s a new stride in town: backwards running. That’s right, we’re talking about running…in reverse. Before you write it off for being unconventional, let’s take a look at some of the reported benefits—many supported by research—and how you may benefit from integrating retro running into your fitness routine.
Many of the advantages of backwards running are related to the altered stride pattern. Instead of the traditional heel strike followed by a roll through the midfoot and push off from the toes, backwards running involves a forefoot strike and the takeoff originating more towards the back of the foot. This biomechanical variance results in less impact stress to be absorbed by the foot and lower leg,which may help speed recovery from certain overuse injuries such as shinsplints while still allowing an individual to stay active. A study from the UK in 2012 and highlighted in this New York Times article found that the stress on the front of the knee is also reduced in backwards running, making it a potential exercise variation for those with anterior knee pain or patellofemoral syndrome.
Furthermore, the muscles involved to produce this reverse movement are challenged in a different way than they are during normal forward motion. They are unable to rely on stored elastic energy that comes from the muscles being pulled taut during landing and recoiling during take off and are thus less efficient in their contractions. Also, additional muscles that are not used during forward running are recruited. This results in a greater expenditure of calories and an increase in overall dynamic musculature of the lower extremity. It also reduces muscle imbalances between the anterior and posterior portions of the lower leg. So while it may seem that running backwards is a tricky endeavor, sensory perception and balance will improve due to the challenges presented by our anatomy.
Thinking about adding some retro running to your life? Running blogs such as this one suggest to start with short, straight distances on a flat and stable surface (i.e. track or quality expanse of grass) that is free of potential obstacles. Begin by walking and then work up to greater speeds; many first-time backwards runners reported being surprised at how quickly the initial feelings of awkwardness subsided and that the movement became much more natural after only a few sessions. You could begin by finishing your 15 minute run on a treadmill with a 1 minute retro running bout or add some backwards strides after your trail run and then workup to alternating running types at various time or distance ratios (just be careful when flipping around!). As far as form goes, experienced runners suggest having a slight bend (but not too much) in the knee and leaning a little forward to help keep your balance. Give it a try: as long as you are careful and give yourself time to find your comfortable style and pace, your body can only benefit from backwards running.
Alex Vitek is a nationally Certified, state Licensed Athletic Trainer and post-graduate Resident in training at The Galland Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Athletic Training Residency– a 12 month immersional program allowing ATCs to maintain and hone clinical skills while developing those talents necessary to be effective in the clinical setting as an ATC/physician extender. Find out more at www.atcfellowship.com.
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ABOUT DR. MARK GALLAND:
Mark Galland, M.D. is an orthopaedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist and physician at Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina. He currently serves as a team physician and orthopaedic consultant to the Carolina Mudcats, the advanced A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, medical director and orthopaedic consultant to the Louisburg College Athletic Program, medical director of the Barton College athletic program, adjunct clinical professor at Marietta College and team physician and Orthopaedic consultant to several area high schools.
Tags: youth pitching; baseball; tommy john surgery; major league baseball
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Dr. Galland spoke with Marti Skold from News 14 on Friday to discuss how student athletes can prevent injury as they return to their fall sports. As athletes begin training in the hot summer sun, it is very important for athletes to understand safety precautions that will help ensure a safe practice. To view the segment, visit http://triangle.news14.com/content/news/in_depth/698264/in-depth–orthopedic-surgeon-dr–mark-galland .
Tags: injury, mark galland, news 14, sports, student athletes
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A bit wordy and obviously written as an “Advertorial” but a very excellent description of the anatomy and mechanics of an endemic baseball injury. Hook of the Hamate Fracture costs millions each year in medical costs and lost work product. The injury is almost exclusively the result of a “checked swing.” The bat design and theory is sound. Excellent and interesting read. Enjoy!
It’s April 9, 2013. Gordon Beckham of the White Sox stands at the plate facing down the Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez. The promising young hitter has weathered a tough few years of disappointing averages, but his 2013 season is off to a solid start. He’s batting over .300, meaning it could be the season of the turnaround, the year that redirects his career to come.
A 2-2 fastball fires from the mound. Beckham swings big, spinning almost 360 degrees before hunching over in pain. No one knows why. Moments later, Beckham would be in the dugout with trainers staring at his hand with a strange, clinical detachment, curious how his body had betrayed him.
In reality, the pain had little to do with his mega swing. Beckham actually sustained an injury on the pitch before–a typical high outside fastball that he appeared to innocuously foul.
“When I swung through the ball, I definitely felt it,” he tells me later. “It did not feel good.”
Beckham, who’d never broken a bone in his life, fractured his hamate–a bone in the wrist all too familiar to major league players for its propensity to crack unexpectedly. He’d require surgery and couldn’t be back to play for seven weeks. His turnaround was stopped in its tracks.
It Could Have Been Prevented
At the same time, a graphic designer named Grady Phelan was formatting a Kickstarter campaign for an invention that had consumed the last decade of his life, along with $125,000 in personal savings. Called the ProXR, his patented creation tilted the knob of a bat by 23 degrees specifically to prevent the fairly common hamate fracture that Beckham had incurred.
The especially bitter irony? Not only did Phelan already have a small pile of supporting research along with the MLB’s approval to use his bat in play; the ProXR had been admitted into the Hall of Fame three years earlier! Despite such an endorsement, Phelan couldn’t convince a major bat manufacturer to produce the ProXR. And without the major bat manufacturers on board, it was impossible to convince players to adopt the technology.
Phelan’s Kickstarter campaign failed to reach its $40,000 goal while Beckham sat on the disabled list for seven weeks. Almost $800,000 in salary effectively disappeared to a benched Beckham, and the White Sox slipped to second-to-last place.
But as I would learn in researching this very article, that wasn’t the end of the story for Grady Phelan, the ProXR, or even Gordon Beckham (who’d return from his injury batting over .300). Just when things seemed the most hopeless for the homegrown ergonomic bat, the largest, most historical brand in baseball took serious notice.
A Game Of Traditions
Even though Ray Chapmen died after being struck in the head by a pitch in 1920, it took almost 40 years and a grandfathered MLB mandate for many reluctant players to adopt batting helmets. Today, it would be ridiculous to consider the helmet as contrary to the sport’s purity, but even the most insignificant tropes of baseball have a long half life. Bats haven’t changed in 135 years, but bat grip has changed.
No doubt, the same sense of tradition that fought the helmet for so many years has kept the baseball bat relatively stagnant throughout history. The construction has become absurdly precise, the wood has gotten harder, and bat manufacturers have amassed a very scientific understanding of moisture content and grain, but the bat design itself has gone nowhere. Before the ProXR, the MLB hadn’t approved a single new bat design since the 1970s. And maybe that wouldn’t matter, if not for one important catch:
“Bats haven’t changed in 135 years, but bat grip has changed,” Phelan explains. You see, baseball used to be a game of finesse. Look up photos from 1900 and earlier, and you’ll spot players choking up to bunt and slap at the ball. It was a calculated approach to batting, built to find the holes in a team’s defense.
When a baseball player hits the ball, their wrist is ostensibly struck by a hammer.
Around 1910, players adopted a new grip, dropping their hands to the bottom of the bat in a quest for most swing speed, beginning a trend that would only accelerate as strategy gave way to brute-force homerun hitting. So the bat’s knob–once a safety catch–began grinding its way into the bones of every major league player as they rode the bottom of the stick for maximum speed.
Today, when a baseball player rolls their wrists through the point of impact with the ball, pressure skyrockets, and their hamate endures forces as great as 80 PSI–meaning that bone is ostensibly hit by a hammer. In response, the ProXR isn’t just lathed symmetrically like most bats. Instead, it tilts that knob by 23 degrees (which happens to be the precise range of motion of the human wrist) to work with human anatomy to mitigate hamate impacts by roughly 25%. In theory, that’s enough to prevent many breaks.
The logic behind the ProXR isn’t really all that difficult to grasp. In fact, while it was convincing enough to be tested (successfully) at the Washington University School of Medicine’s Biometrics Lab, getting a professional MLB player to try it out is a whole other challenge. It’s hard to imagine why that may be. After all, Tiger Woods adopts the newest club technology Nike has to offer year after year. What makes baseball players different? It comes back to that idea of tradition.
“I think ball players are superstitious,” Mike Hessman tells me. “If they have something they like, it’s hard to break them of that.”
Hessman is a journeyman ball player currently at the Louisville Bats. He holds the all-time homerun record for minor league play (with over 400 homers as of this season). Hessman’s other claim to fame is that he has a bat in the Hall of Fame–specifically, a ProXR he borrowed from a buddy during batting practice and eventually tried out in a major league start just because “it felt good.” Hessman ended up hitting a double at Wrigley Field, which was the bat’s first hit in the majors. A few days later, the Hall of Fame claimed the prototype for itself (recognizing the ProXR’s inauguration as either history or novelty), and Hessman’s interest faded a bit as he made his way to play ball in Japan. (The Milwaukee Brewers’ Prince Fielder used it later in a few games as well.)
I ask Hessman if it would be hard for a professional to adjust their swing to the ProXR’s unconventional design. He estimates that a day of batting practice should be adequate. The tougher challenge is, again, one of changing a player’s mentality.
“I think minor leaguers will try anything. They see something new and want to check it out,” Hessman explains. “[But] I think the guys that are established don’t like to change a lot of things that have worked for them in the past.”
The guys that are established don’t like to change.
It’s a sentiment that seems mostly true. Though in fact, Louisville Slugger makes somewhere around 400 different permutations of their iconic bats to appease particular player tastes, and one recent bat startup has claimed roughly 20% of the MLB bat market specifically by selling the idea of extremely subtle, artisan customization.
Phelan explains the shortage of early adopters in the majors through a slightly more nuanced lens. Players are surely bat-loyal, he learned attending the Cardinals spring training camp in 2006, but they’re brand loyal, too. “Very few guys will change their bat brand. If you’re a Louisville Slugger guy, you’re going to die a Louisville Slugger guy,” he says. “At camp, it became apparent to me that these guys like my tech, but they love their brand of bat.”
“So I asked them, ‘If you can get this on your brand of bat, would you use it?’ Their answer was ‘I’d give it a try.”
Wooing The Big Boys
Grady Phelan is a true basement inventor. He hasn’t played organized baseball since high school. He was inspired to create the ProXR, not while having beers with some deep network of major league buddies, but while swinging at hickory nuts in his backyard alongside his kids. The bat slipped from his hands, almost struck his son, and left a strange bruise on Phelan’s hand. After months of research, Phelan would learn that his grip’s compression had short circuited his own nerves–another nasty side effect of choking down on the traditional knobbed baseball bat–and he’d eventually create his patented design by dumping six figures into ideas dreamed up in his home woodshop.
Hickory nuts make for a great design anecdote but a very humble industry pitch. When Phelan received a patent confirmation for his ProXR design in 2006, he immediately brought the idea to a big company in his own hometown of St Louis: Rawlings.
“I don’t want to put Rawlings on the spot,” he insists, “but I basically got this response:”
a. Nobody is going to use that.
b. You can’t ever manufacture that.
c. You’ll never get MLB to approve that.
d. You’ll never get that in a game.
e. You’ll never get a player to play it.
It was a damning rejection (and Rawlings was not available for comment), but Phelan interpreted the negativity as a “to-do list” instead of a dead end. As of 2010, a, b, c, d, and e had all been checked off the list–a huge accomplishment by any metric–but Rawlings still hasn’t expressed interest in licensing the design.
The ProXR–before finishing the tilted knob.
From Phelan’s perspective, he not only needs a company like Rawlings to sell players on trying the bat for safety reasons; he needs Rawlings to sell players on trying to bat for performance reasons. Because the ProXR has a tilted knob, it could theoretically offer players a bit more finesse during the final milliseconds before striking the ball. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it isn’t. But the only way for anyone to know is for the bat to get into the hands of more players. And the best way for that to happen is for a major bat maker to push the tech.
“This will sound cheesy, but this is a David and Goliath thing, and a ‘it’s not invented here’ thing. I’m a graphic designer and an inventor who’s trying to convince bat companies that this is the real deal, that there are serious problems with the bat. And it’s not in their best interest to admit there are problems with the bat.”
As For Beckham…
The pro companies won’t touch it, so the baseball players won’t touch it. But what about those who’ve sustained hamate injuries? What about Gordon Beckham himself? Does he wish he’d been using a ProXR to avoid the hamate injury?
“If you’d asked me two months ago, I might have said, ‘Yeah, I wish I’d been using it,” Beckham admits. “Now that I’m back swinging the bat okay, I’d say no.”
If you’d asked me two months ago, I might have said, ‘Yeah, I wish I’d been using it.’
Like most major leaguers, Beckham is brand-biased, having used the same bat (an Old Hickory) since coming up to the majors in 2008. But when I asked if he’d heard of this safer bat, he divulged that he had actually swung a ProXR before. Beckham, ever the southern gent, called it a “great concept” that “definitely felt better” in regards to its tilted knob. He even went on to tell me that “it felt like you could really pull that bat through the zone really nice”–meaning there really may be something to Phelan’s arguments about more wrist flexibility being a good thing for striking the ball.
His qualm, however, was a big one: Because the bat is asymmetrical, its margin of grip error is in some ways more like a golf club than a baseball bat. “If you grip the bat, you’ve gotta make sure you grip it exactly the right way,” he explained. “If you’re not swinging and hitting the right perfect spot on the barrel, you’re going to have trouble.”
That might not sound like a big deal–after all, golfers make it work–but players like Beckham will almost compulsively grip and regrip the bat, searching for that perfect feel of grain in their hands. It’s a habit that could be hard to break, which is why Beckham even suggests that the ProXR might work better for players when introduced to them young. Indeed, there’s little impetus for Beckham to switch now since the hamate is actually removed when broken, meaning it won’t be a recurring injury for him or any other baseball player.
“I feel like, for guys who have broken their hamate, they’re not going to use it,” Beckham says. “For guys who’ve used a different bat for their whole life, it’s going to be difficult to change the feel of what they’re doing.”
So Now What?
Despite Beckham’s grounding skepticism, I was left at a loss when parting with Phelan after a surprisingly fast hour on the phone. Sure, he was a humble basement inventor, but he seemed neither a shyster nor a quack. In fact, our discussion had proven that he had all the pragmatism of any good designer, and he had an incredible tome of knowledge on the topic to boot. If anything, the cruel joke was on him: His product was failing to catch specifically because of its watershed design.
Before hanging up, I’d asked if he’d pitched Hillerich & Bradsby, manufacturers of the Louisville Slugger (the official bat of the MLB). He had in September of last year.
Our R&D team said that Grady’s presentation was one of the best they’d ever seen.
Phelan assured me that the pitch had actually gone quite well, but how could that possibly be? He was still stuck honing his bats out of his basement. I wanted to know what could have gone wrong with Phelan’s sell–maybe baseball was having its own NFL crisis moment, and product manufacturers were afraid to touch injury. Maybe the bat companies were developing their own patented tech to mitigate hamate injuries without paying licensing. Or maybe Phelan had just completely misread the polite repartee of a disinterested company, and baseball at large was okay with the Gordon Beckhams of the world occasionally missing 6 to 8 weeks of play to injury.
“[We] were intrigued,” Rick Redman, a Hillerich & Bradsby spokesperson tells me over email. “Our R&D team gets a lot of product pitches and they said that Grady’s presentation was one of the best they’d ever seen. But our focus has been on our MLB Prime which we introduced to MLB fields this season, a reinvention of our wood bat line with innovations that created the hardest wood bats we’ve ever made…”
It was a heck of a rejection–a total affirmation of Phelan’s work and a complete slap in the face of innovation at the same time. But the industry’s hesitance still made no sense. Why make harder bats in lieu of making them safer? Why say an idea was stellar but then ignore it?
Then, just a few minutes later, I received a surprising follow-up from Redman:
“A little addition, in a hallway conversation just a few minutes ago I learned from Bobby Hillerich, our Director of Wood Bat Operations, that he continues to work with Grady on this project and that we would like to have it in our repertoire for any players who want it. “
And with that, it sounds like after a decade of striking out, Grady Phelan may have finally landed a hit.
[Images: Leland Payne, 1909 via Library of Congress, Denard Span via Wikipedia]
Tags: equipment, fracture, Hand, MLB, technology
Posted in Hand & Wrist | No Comments »
RALEIGH, N.C. – Dr. Mark Galland, M.D., a physician at Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina (www.orthonc.com), has announced the release of a podcast in which he discusses the differences between arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and traditional rotator cuff repair. In the podcast, Dr. Galland describes the size of incision that is required for arthroscopic rotator cuff repair as well as its advantages compared to traditional rotator cuff repair.
Traditionally, surgeons have performed open rotator cuff repair when a patient suffers from a tear that requires surgery. In this procedure, an incision is made over the outside of the shoulder, usually about 6-10 centimeters in length, and the muscle beneath the skin is separated to expose the rotator cuff, which is then inspected and repaired.
To prevent significant pain and leave a much smaller incision, orthopaedic surgeons have begun performing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, which leaves a much smaller incision through the use of small instruments to perform the procedure.
To listen to the podcast, visit: http://drmarkgalland.com/arthroscopic-rotator-cuff-repair-vs-traditional-rotator-cuff-repair/.
“Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is performed through multiple small incisions, usually a centimeter in size,” said Galland. “It is an outpatient procedure, so patients can expect to return home to the comforts of their own surroundings and sleep in their own bed the very same day of the procedure.”
ABOUT DR. MARK GALLAND:
Mark Galland, M.D. is an orthopaedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist and physician at Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina. Dr. Galland received his medical degree from Tulane University’s School of Medicine and completed his residency in the university’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He began his career in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine while serving in the United States Navy at a naval hospital at Camp Lejeune, N.C. There, he served as chief of orthopaedic surgery and was the recipient of numerous awards for both leadership and excellence in treating injuries common to sailors and marines. Since beginning with Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina, Galland has continued to treat injured athletes. He currently serves as a team physician and orthopaedic consultant to the Carolina Mudcats, the advanced A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, medical director and orthopaedic consultant to the Louisburg College Athletic Program, medical director of the Barton College athletic program, adjunct clinical professor at Marietta College and team physician and Orthopaedic consultant to several area high schools.
MMI Public Relations
Posted in Arthroscopy, Podcast, Shoulder, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Dr. Mark Galland, M.D., has announced the release of a podcast in which he discusses the differences between arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and traditional rotator cuff repair. In the podcast, Galland describes the size of incision that is required for arthroscopic rotator cuff repair as well as its advantages compared to traditional rotator cuff repair.
To listen to the podcast, visit: Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair (final)
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »