The Romance of Leadership
Edited by Dwight Normile
What you should know about Sever disease
SEVER disease (calcaneal apophysitis) is a common injury of the heel, often found in any sport that requires running or repetitive
pounding of the feet. It usually occurs during puberty and is slightly
more common in boys. It is similar to Osgood-Schlatter disease of
the knee, and was first discovered in 1912 by J.W. Sever, M.D.
Cause: The condition is often caused by a rapid growth spurt com-
bined with the overuse of the bone and tendons in the heel. Growth
of the bones increases the tension between the Achilles’ tendon and
the growth plate at the heel.
Symptoms: Pain or tenderness in the heel, or when the heel is
squeezed at the sides. Severe pain after running or jumping.
Treatment: Sever disease will disappear when the bones stop growing, which is small consolation to gymnasts. Until that time, stretching the calf muscles will increase flexibility and reduce the stress between
the Achilles’ tendon and heel. Rest
and apply ice for 20 minutes, 2-3
times per day. Avoid all skills in training that require running or punching.
Always wear shoes with firm supports and a shock-absorbent sole.
(No flip-flops; no barefoot walking.)
Also, see a qualified sports physician
for further rehabilitation advice.
By Julia Patriarche, Ph.D.
Specificity of Exercise
Training what you need to train
WE often hear people talking about doing “whole body work- outs,” as if it is possible to exercise the entire body. But what does it mean, exactly? There are approximately 640
skeletal muscles in the human body. If you were truly planning to
exercise all of those muscles, you would have an impossibly difficult
task! If you exercised every muscle with 3 or 4 sets of 10-12 repetitions, your workout would last a very long time.
It isn’t just about strength, though. The word “fitness” refers to a
constellation of features of your body strength, speed, agility,
endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular capacity, bone density, and
some might say, leanness. Each of these aspects of fitness can be
improved with practice. Most of them are improved through gymnastics. Such practice, however, affects particular parts of the body,
and particular aspects of fitness. Exercises can be made particularly
broad, covering a range of muscles or aspects of fitness, or particularly focused, covering specific muscles, or specific aspects of fitness.
In gymnastics, as in life, it is important to set priorities. Gymnastics as a sport inherently exercises a broad range of muscle groups,
and many aspects of fitness. Gymnasts supplement their training
with “stretch and strength.” When deciding which stretch and
strength routines to use, it’s important to stay focused on what’s
going to lead to success. You should invest your training time in
exercises that are going to provide you with the strength or flexibili-
ty necessary to perform particular skills or to prevent injury.
It’s important to realize how specific forms of exercise can be,
though. Compare the speed of an expert martial artist (i.e. how
quickly they can move their body) with the speed of an expert body
builder. Expert body builders might be champion athletes, but they
are probably not as fast as the martial artist, because they don’t
train for speed. They train for aesthetics.
Likewise, specificity can apply to specific body regions. For
example, your bones grow stronger in response to the strains you
place on them. The bones in a serious tennis player’s dominant
arm can be much thicker than the bones in the other arm.
Practice what you want to develop. If you are trying to develop
speed, then train speed. If you are trying to develop strength, then
train strength. Although there are always places where supplementary exercise can help a gymnast, people generally get good at
gymnastics by doing gymnastics. Those people work just exactly
the body parts and aspects of fitness that will help them to become
Former gymnast Julia Patriarche earned her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences-biophysical sciences from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. She is currently an assistant professor at University of Hawaii.
It’s important to stay focused on what’s
going to lead to success. You should invest
your training time in exercises that are
going to provide you with the strength or
flexibility necessary to perform particular
skills or to prevent injury.