Thursday, June 19, 2008

The 2008 NBA Finals: Regaining Celtic Pride

This year's National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals was one for the books. It featured two of the most-heated basketball rivalries of all time—the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. These two teams met for the first time in 1987 and this year's finals encounter marked their 11th courtside battle. The Celtics' recent win handed them their 17th championship, while the Lakers failed to capture their 15th title.

Boston, led by the big three, composed of Kevin Ganett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen dominated over the Lakers team which was led by this year's Most Valuable Player (MVP), Kobe Bryant. The Celtics won the title in six games, re-affriming their status as one the elite teams in the league. The 39-point marginal victory was the second best in the NBA finals, and probably the best in a clincher game. Winning the series is significant for the Celtics because of a couple of things:

The Boston Celtics came from a dismal 2006-2007 season and regained lost glory.
The Boston Celtic's 61st NBA season ended with a gloom, with the team finishing with a 24-58 win-loss record—the second worst in the league that season. The Boston Celtics were only marginally in front of the Memphis Grizzlies. The season was also overshadowed with injuries of Paul Pierce and other key players, and the deaths of Celtic greats Red Auerbach and Dennis Johnson. The 2007-2008 season was a complete turn-around of a disappointing season. Because of an overhauled line-up, the Celtics won a total of 66 games and lost 16.

The Boston Win Preserved Red Auerbach’s Legacy.

Because of the the Celtic win, Phil Jackson failed to attain his tenth championship, the number he needed to become the NBA's all-time winningest coach in terms of championships. He ramains tied with Celtic legendary coach Red Auerbach’s record of nine titles.

The Celtic trade proved to be better than the Laker one.
The offseason trade executed by the Celtics and the mid-season trade by the Lakers was a vital cog in the success of the two teams. The Boston Celtics became heavy favorites to win the title at the start of the season by acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen from different transactions. The Lakers on the other hand, were playoff favorites at the start of the season, but became championship contenders by acquiring the services of Pau Gasol, a great passer despite his 7-foot frame. Take note that Phil Jackson’s “Triangle Offense” needed a center that could pass the ball. However, the Celtic trade proved to be the better one because Garnett dominated Gasol in both sides of the court throughout the finals.

This year's NBA finals ended with a bang with the Celtic magic overcoming the Laker showtime. It was sweet victory for Garnett, Allen, and Pierce winning their first title after more than 10 years in the league. Even the elite NBA teams failed to stop the the Boston surge, indeed, the Celtic magic is here and it is certainly here to stay.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Upside and Downside of Steroid Use

Sports culture has changed in the 21st century. Gone are the days where hard work and training brings an athlete to victory. Today, more and more athletes are indulging in many substances to improve their athletic performance and stamina. News about athletes and performance enhancing drugs, primarily steroids, seem to become regular items in the news. It is no secret that a number of professional wrestlers and some hard core body builders are steroid users. But now even runners, swimmers, baseball players, and cyclists are accused of abuse. In some cases, they have admitted to having used steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. These individuals admitted that they took these substances to have an edge in competition.

Steroids, one of the most abused performance enhancers, are powerful drugs that work by increasing protein synthesis within the cells. By doing this, steroids may enable individuals to run faster, hit harder, lift heavier weights, have more endurance and stamina, react faster, and achieve better than peak performance. In addition to this, steroids may also increase the body's production of testosterone, a naturally occurring hormone in the body. Testosterone enhances male characteristics like muscle mass, facial hair growth, and deepening of the voice. Steroids are banned substances and specialists are still puzzled at how ordinary people get a hold of it. Reports say that one can actually purchase steroids over the Internet. Steroid users are rampant nowadays, such that people may not readily recognize them if they are not aware of what to look for as physical signs.

Steroids may improve one's physique and increase physical performance. However, in the long run, it can greatly damage one's health, especially if taken in large doses.

Steroids taken for an extended period of time can lead to the following health conditions:

  • stunted growth in teens (by causing bones to mature too fast and stop growing at an early age)
  • liver tumors
  • abnormal of the heart muscles
  • violent, aggressive behavior and mood swings
  • blood lipid abnormalities that contribute to heart disease
  • acne (or a worsening of acne)
  • increased breast growth in males, especially teens
  • irreversible stretch marks
  • a heightened tendency for hair loss and male-pattern baldness
  • muscle aches

Teen girls and women risk these additional side effects:

  • male-type facial and body hair growth and male-pattern baldness
  • deepening of the voice
  • enlargement of the clitoris

In addition to these effects, many steroid-users have died in the past; the causes being strongly connected with taking steroids. They are not good for one’s heart tissue, and may lead to the development of many health complications. Steroid users may also develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and tumors of the kidney or liver. Athletes who abuse steroids have been known to suffer heart attacks and strokes before they turn 30.

Clearly, the ill-effects of steroids outweigh its benefits. Individuals who want to improve their physical performance and stamina should bear in mind that the risks in taking these drugs are great and are not worth it. Hard work and dedication should be prioritized, rather than taking substances that may help one gain a temporary edge in the sports field.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pain and Exercise an Inevitable Combination

Every once in a while pain and injury is experienced by individuals who frequently engage in strenuous physical activities. To some athletes or health buffs, pain is a friend, some on the other hand, would rather avoid suchs activities than experience additional pain. However, this move may actually worsen the condition because inactivity may promote muscle degeneration. When this happens even the simple exercises may lead to the development of pain. Once the muscles start to deteriorate, other problems may soon develop such as diminishing bone density, depression, and a weakened heart. On the contrary, regular exercise can help keep joints flexible and strong. Regular exercise may also reduce the occurrence of pain that is caused by exertion.

However exercise and other physical activities should be done properly because different kinds of exercises provide different kinds of health benefits. For example, flexibility workouts involve stretches that can help enhance range of motion. Cardiovascular includes aerobic workouts, walking, water exercises, and cycling. Strength and conditioning, includes isometric or isotonic workouts. Isometric workouts are static exercises that involve applying resistance without moving the joint. An example of isometric workout is pressing your hands against the wall while standing. It works out your chest muscle without joint movement. Isotonic workouts, on the other hand, use the full range of motion such as bicep curls and leg extensions.

Different exercises work for different individuals. A certain exercise that works for one may not work for another. Consult a doctor or a well-trained fitness instructor before engaging in a fitness program to achieve optimum results and avoid the occurrence of injuries that may hinder one’s health and fitness goals. Injury prevention is not easy but it can be achieved by engaging in proper exercise routines which include warm-ups and cool-downs. Doing these pre and post workout exercises is necessary in preventing the development injuries because warm-ups prepare the body for the strenuous activity ahead. Cooling down on the other hand slows down the heart rate and returns the muscles to their resting stage.

However, injuries are inevitable when it comes to sport and other physical activities if development can only be lessened. Every once in a while injuries will occur whether we like it or not. However the occurrence of injuries should not be a cause of concern because self care remedies like resting, applying ice, compressing and elevating the injured part may greatly speed up the healing process. In addition to these health care remedies, the use of muscles relaxants and other drugs may reduce the pain that may be experienced with injuries. Medications for pain should be used properly to prevent the development of side effects, allergies, drug interactions, among others. Medical research also shows that frequent use or taking them in large doses may damage the liver in the long run.

Pain is certain and expected especially in exercise and other physical activities. Pain may be a sign that one’s exercise program is effective or it’s a flop. Proper understanding and a doctor’s help is needed to determine which is which.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sleep and the Athlete

Sleep is an essential factor in obtaining good health. Through sleep, the body restores itself—the muscles recover from a day’s work and the other organs rejuvenate themselves. It plays an essential role in maintaining the physical, mental, and emotional health of an individual. Sleep is also essential in maintaining and improving the athletic performance of physically active individuals. Athletes and health buffs, among others, all need ample amounts of sleep to attain their peak level of performance.

A lack of sleep may have an adverse effect on one’s athletic performance and overall health. Studies show that about 30 to 36 hours without sleep may decrease an athlete’s time before reaching the point of exhaustion. A consistent lack of sleep may also impair cardiovascular performance by an average of 11 percent. An athlete who needs eight hours of sleep but only gets six will accumulate a large amount of sleep debt in 15 days, enough to hamper cardiovascular and athletic performance.

Lack of sleep may also lessen the ability to gain peak power while training, exercising, or engaging in other strenuous physical activities. For example, sprinting, and accelerating up hills may become a little difficult because sleep deprivation can lower maximum heart rate. It is also clear that a lack of sleep may hamper coordination and efficiency during exercise. In addition to these health effects, lack of sleep may also cause the body’s temperature to rise faster during exercise. This may increase the risk of exhaustion, among other health complications.

Because of the importance of sleep in terms of sports or athletic performance, it is important to give importance to one’s sleeping patterns. Changing one’s schedule for more than two or adding an hour or a couple of hours to one’s sleep on weekends may disrupt the body’s biological clock. Individuals who want to improve or enhance their athletic performance are advised to give importance to sleep and not just on their training.

The following are some of the guidelines that are recommended by health professionals to individuals who experience sleep difficulties:
  • Make sleep a part of your regular training regimen.
  • Extend nightly sleep for several weeks to reduce your sleep debt before competition.
  • Maintain a low sleep debt by obtaining a sufficient amount of nightly sleep (seven to eight hours for adults, nine or more hours for teens and young adults).
  • Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same times every day.
  • Take brief naps to obtain additional sleep during the day, especially if drowsy.
Individuals who experience chronic sleep deprivation may use medications that may help them improve their sleep patterns. There are a number of medications that are out in the market that are specifically designed to improve one’s sleep. However, these drugs should never be taken without the approval of doctors because of the side effects that they may bring. Some may hamper one’s athletic performance, rather than improve it. A clear understanding of sleep is essential in helping individuals achieve their health goals. These individuals are encouraged to have clear and effective communication with their doctors to achieve their goals.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Importance of Preventing Injuries Among Teens and Children

Encouraging children to participate in sports may be beneficial for them. They may develop cooperation and sportsmanship that they may use later in life and also improve their health. But any sport that may be participated by children also carries potential injuries. They are particularly prone to different injuries because of poor coordination, slow reactions, among others. Because of these reasons, injury prevention is an important aspect in the sports activities of children.

However, despite the efforts of parents and guardians, the occurrence of injuries while playing sports is inevitable. There are three common types of injuries that can be experienced by children which include acute injuries, overuse injuries, and re-injuries.

Acute Injuries

Acute pain may be mild and temporary, or severe and lengthy and may last for weeks or months. This kind of pain if left untreated may lead to chronic pain or painful sensations that persist even if a certain injury is healed. The time limit used to define chronic pain typically ranges from three to six months and may affect one’s way of living. Examples of acute injuries include minor bruises, sprains, and strains. Kids and teen athletes are prone to injuries like broken bones and torn ligaments.

Using the right equipments like ankle, knee, and wrist supporters are essential in preventing the development of acute injuries.

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries may develop because of repetitive actions that put excess stress and tension on the bones and muscles. It is one of the common causes of muscle pain which can also lead to the development of micro-tears on the tissue and cause a greater tear over a period of time. In addition to these effects, overused muscles may lose up to 40 to 50 percent of its normal strength. This condition may be painful and have a negative impact on one's physical performance and hamper mobility. Overuse injuries can be prevented by not exercising or training to the point of fatigue or over exhaustion.


Re-injury or repeat sports injury is another common sports injury which occurs when an athlete returns to the sport before a previous injury has sufficiently healed. Adults and children may heighten the risk of re-injury when they engage in sports or training activities before full recovery. Engaging in these activities too soon may place additional stress to the injury that have not fully healed. This condition can be avoided by allowing certain injuries to fully heal before playing sports activities or training.

Cases of acute, overuse, and repeat sports injuries in children should be prevented to impede the development of serious condition when these children grow up. Several studies suggest that these injuries acquired at a very young age may heighten the development of serious conditions like osteoarthritis when the child grows up. These injuries may result in continued deterioration to the bone surface and cartilage in the joints.

Knowing and understanding the do’s and don’ts of sports and other physical activities may greatly reduce the occurrence of injuries. For this reason, any sport or physical activity that children participates should be supervised by qualified adults.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Drazen Petrovic: Basketball Hero

The basketball craze has been felt not only in the United States but also in other countries around the world. The popularity of basketball, in no small measure, is due to the National Basketball Association which is considered to be the premier basketball league. It is generally accepted that American and foreign import players in the NBA have shaped the past, present, and future of basketball as an international sport. The grace, athleticism, and extraordinary skills of NBA players have become standards that millions of die-hard basketball players and fans try to passionately emulate.

Like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, players like Yao Ming, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, and Steve Nash have also become household names. Specifically, Olajuwon, Duncan, Nowitzki, and Nash are among the first non-American players who have won a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Before these noted players took the limelight, Drazen Petrovic stole the show from many American basketball players. Many sports analysts and experts credit Petrovic for making the way for other international players to prosper in the NBA.

Drazen Petrovic was a Croatian basketball player who was considered by many as the pioneer in the migration of European and other international players in the NBA. He was a prolific scorer and shooter and arguably one of the most celebrated ball players to come from Europe. Petrovic was one a kind. His European competitions personal bests include single games of 112 and 62 points. Petrovic was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers and went on to end his career with New Jersey Nets. In the NBA, he is considered to be one of the best shooters ever to play the game. In the 1992-93 season, he averaged 22.3 points (11th best that season), 45 percent three-point field goal percentage, and 52 percent two-point field goal percentage (best among guards at that time). These statistics placed him in the All-NBA third team.

In 1993, the Nets were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. After the loss, Petrovic expressed his plans of accepting a two-year offer to play professional basketball in Greece. He left for Europe to rejoin the Croatian national team in a European Cup competition. After scoring 30 points in a qualifying tournament in Poland, it was reported that Petrovic went to Germany. On June 7, 1993, he was off to Munich when the car he rode slammed into a tractor-trailer, killing him and leaving the driver and another companion with grave injuries. News reports said he was with Hilal Haene, a female Turkish basketball player and Klara Szalantzy, a German model and Petrovic’s girlfriend. Petrovic died at the young age of 28.

The loss particularly stunned European basketball fans. "It's hard for you to imagine here in America, because you have so many great players.”But we are a country of four million. Without him, basketball takes three steps back." his brother Aleksandar Pertovic told the New York Daily News. Late in 1993 the Nets retired Petrovic's uniform No. 3 in tribute. His death was loss not only to his family and fellow Europeans, but to the sport of basketball as well.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dangers of Drinking Too Much Water

Recent studies show that many people are drinking too much water, including sports drinks, when they are engaged in physical exercise. This practice could put a number of individuals who engage in strenuous exercise or competition at risk of hyponatremia. Also known as water intoxication, many health experts say that this condition hampers one’s ability to metabolize water. The long list of individuals who are affected by this condition includes runners, tri-athletes, cyclists, martial artists, to name a few.

In the past, athletes and fitness buffs were advised to drink all they can before, during, and after exercise or training. However, health and fitness experts still encourage the practice of smart drinking of both water and sports drinks. But clearly, drinking too much liquid is as dangerous as having too few liquids in one's system. Excess fluid in the body waters down or dilutes the blood, leading to risky low salt levels in body. In addition, the brain cells of individuals with hyponatremia may absorb too much water which leads to brain swelling. Water may push against the skull and therefore lead to seizures. Severe cases of this condition may lead to breathing difficulties and eventually death.

"Humans are actually designed quite well for dehydration," said Dr. Timothy David Noakes, chairman of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. "There is very little evidence it has any effect until one becomes very dehydrated -- by which time your mouth is so dry, and you have such extreme thirst, that this would never happen. You are going to find water or a sports drink. There is no way you will be seriously dehydrated when you start a race," he adds.

So how do you know how much to drink? Experts say that the solution is not to drink too much. Consuming water alone during strenuous activities may not be the best option because the body loses essential amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes. Health experts say that the guidelines for water consumption during training includes 20 ounces of fluid before exercise, and over the course of every hour of exercise drink between 28 to 40 ounces of fluid.

In general, athletes and health buffs should take in the adequate amount of sodium days and even hours prior to an endurance event. Athletes often take salt tablets before a race. On hot sunny days, drinking one half cup of plain generic pedialyte may help. There is argument that sports drinks do work and one that says they don't work. They do seem to work but they are not high in sodium concentration and actually have a ton of sugar. So it's best to not rely on them for sodium replacement but t o supplement with salty foods.

Dehydration can be dangerous. Nonetheless, drinking too much water poses a serious threat as well. So looking out for the earliest signs and symptoms of hyponatremia is very important for any athlete or any individuals who engage in strenuous activities.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The 2008 NBA Finals: Rekindling the Rivalry

The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are set to meet again in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals. The last time that the two team faced-off for the finals was in 1987, when the Lakers won the title. Boston led by Paul Pierce will slug it out with Lakers after a strong season and a dismal post season. On the other hand, reigning MVP, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers have reached the playoffs because of a vastly improved line-up following the acquisition of Pau Gasol. With a total 10 final encounters with the Celtics winning the first eight and the Lakers the final two, the title and bragging rights are at stake in this year’s NBA Finals. Considering that Laker coach Phil Jackson may also surpass Celtic legendary coach Red Auerbach’s record of nine titles with a series win over the Celtics.

The 2008 NBA finals will feature an old rivalry with new players. The Pierce—Bryant face off will be the highlight an event that was vacated by several NBA greats. The past Celtics—Lakers rivalry featured player rivalries which included the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Bill Russel, and Wilt Chamberlain. For many, this is the NBA tradition that was missed for such a long time. The passing of memories from one generation to another.

This rivalry may not have been possible if it were not for the off-season moves by the Boston Celtics and the mid-season trade that was executed by the Lakers management. Boston—coming from a 24-win season became a heavy favorite to win the title at the start of the season by acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen from different transactions. The Lakers, on the other hand, were playoff favorites but became championship contenders by acquiring the services of Gasol, a great passer despite his 7-foot frame. Take note that Phil Jackson’s “Triangle Offense” needed a center that could pass the ball.

The 2008 will feature teams with high-caliber players with top-notch management. It is the first time since 2004 that the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference will face the top-seeded team from the Western Conference. The Celtics—Lakers rivalry is back this year. As the tradition continues, an old team with new faces will take the limelight. This year’s finals will not feature dominant big men like Shaquille O’Neal or Tim Duncan. In addition, it will be Bryant’s first finals appearance without O’Neal. For Boston, it will be Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen’s first finals appearance. During the 2007-2008 season, the Celtics beat the Lakers during both their meetings. However, the losses happened before the Lakers acquired Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies.

The NBA finals are set to start in a few days and a lot of questions are up in the air. Will show time be back in L.A. or will the Celtic pride be rekindled? Will Phil Jackson surpass Boston Celtics legendary coach Red Auerbach’s nine titles? These and others will be answered after the 2008 NBA finals.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Gina Carano: Gorgeous Yet Deadly Princess of Martial Arts

The female gender is said to be the weaker sex. In the past, society was dominated by men --- especially in the world of sports. In sports competitions, the men are often in the limelight, always taking the center stage while women are reduced to mere spectators.

But things are slowly changing. Women are now slowly getting into the picture. From swimming to basketball and even in contact sports like boxing and mixed martial arts, the women are slowly getting into the groove. Women in mixed martial have become accepted and a lot of them are slowly conquering the hearts of the masses. A woman who became a sensation in the MMA world is Gina Carano. She is now almost a household name when it comes to women in MMA.

Gina is a 26 year-old female fighter who is currently undefeated in her MMA career with six wins and also holds a 12-1-1 record in Muay Thai. On February 10, 2007, Gina made sports history when she appeared together with Julie Kedzie in an MMA promotion that was televised on a premium television network. Gina has always been an athletic person who got involved into gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, and softball during her high school years. She has fought and won twice in Muay Thai competitions in Thailand and claims that she enjoyed Muay Thai much more than any sport she has played. Carano adds that competing in martial arts and MMA tournaments taught her a lot about self-respect, self-confidence, and self-control. Because of her deadly moves and training methods, she was given the moniker ‘Conviction.’ Gina has more experience as a stand-up fighter and she uses it to her advantage. She also ground skills, but it needs to be more polished for her to become really dominant fighter.

Gina is both gorgeous and deadly. Her skills and looks have made her a star in her own right. She has been featured in Maxim Magazine and was voted by Big Biz Magazine as the hottest woman in America in its 2008 Spring Issue. In addition to these feats, she is reportedly set to appear in Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 as Natasha. However she adds that she was 20 years old when she realized that people started to call her attractive. She exclaims that those compliments does not matter to her and will always see herself as the little 12 year-old with braces or the 16 year-old with bruises all over her legs which she got from playing different kinds of sport.

Gina is a living proof of how strong girl power is today and how the gap of equality between men and women had become a very thin line. Stereotyping women as weak little damsels in distress is now almost a thing of the past. Women nowadays have become a force to reckon with in the field of sports. Gina reminds us that in some areas, girls or females can also dominate in a sport that is traditionally ruled by men.