Dr. Robert Armstrong: Safety is Paramount in Sports Practice Sessions

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Health and sports professionals have drafted new guidelines that aim to protect athletes during intense conditioning sessions. Dr. Robert Armstrong, sports medicine expert, encourages all coaches to take proper precautions.

For football players and many other athletes, the height of the sport is found during intense games or in heavy-duty practices. However, that intensity is not matched by the same amount of danger that athletes risk during conditioning sessions. These sessions, which often take place out of season, do not have the same amount of safety regulations that apply to games and practices, according to a recent article from The Seattle Times. In fact, a large amount of injuries occur during these sessions, especially during summer months. Even more startling is the reported number of deaths associated with NCAA conditioning – 21 fatalities since 2000. Sports medicine physician, Dr. Robert Armstrong hopes that new guidelines will help athletes and trainers realize the importance of proper safety measures.

According to The Seattle Times, a group of health and sports professionals have collaborated to form a list of guidelines that are expected to be used during conditioning sessions. Dr. Jolie Holschen, a sports medicine specialist and co-author of the new guidelines explains the motivation for such rules, “[Football conditioning deaths] generally occurred with excessive exercise under the direction of a coach, often in extreme conditions, and in some cases with staff inadequately prepared to deal with the emergency in a timely or appropriate fashion.”

Dr. Robert Armstrong comments, “New recommendations delivered at the recent National Association of Athletic Trainers meeting in Saint Louis, Mo. will hopefully be followed at all collegiate and interscholastic competition levels to decrease the risk of a young athlete meeting his or her unfortunate demise.” The article also notes that while NCAA-related conditioning sessions are expected to adhere to the guidelines first, high school teams are encouraged to follow similar precautions. Recommendations include making sure athletes are constantly hydrated, taking note of the outside temperature and learning how to respond to medical emergencies in a timely fashion.

While the guidelines have not yet been implemented, it is important for coaches and athletic trainers to realize the severity of unmonitored conditioning. The article likens this attitude to leaving a child unattended at a swimming pool, without a lifeguard. Dr. Robert Armstrong shares many of the same sentiments and concludes, “Following these recommendations should help prevent many tragedies.”


With years of experience in adult reconstructive surgery and sports medicine, Dr. Robert Armstrong currently practices his medical expertise at West Penn Orthopedics. He is an expert in diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of sports-related injuries in addition to diseases that affect the musculoskeletal system. He works to heal patients to a point where they can eliminate pain and return to an independent lifestyle. With offices located in Clarion and DuBois, Pennsylvania, Dr. Robert Armstrong treats patients of all ages on a wide range of medical issues.

To learn more about his services, visit http://www.drarmstrong.com.

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Michael McGarety
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