Morning Medical Update Monday 4-1-24

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


Key points from today’s guests:

Emma Stiles, triathlete

  • As a competitive youth gymnast, a spine fracture led her to switch to collegiate diving at the University of Massachusetts.
  • Now at 27, she trains for triathlons.
  • In 2022, she suffered a left hip stress fracture, but tried to run through the pain.
  • She eventually went to the Female Athlete Program at The University of Kansas Health System to get interdisciplinary care focused on her needs.
  • She was able to avoid surgery by following the program with proper therapy.
  • Emma is now back to running triathlons and is even training to run one with her dad, who is now a paraplegic.
  • She encourages other women to love your body, know your body and listen to your body.
  • Emma believes the Female Athlete Program helps women feel empowered to take those steps to make sure that they have the full spectrum of care that they need to make sure that they're performing at the highest level.

Dr. Lisa Vopat, M.D., sports medicine specialist; director, Female Athlete Program, The University of Kansas Health System

  • Stress injury is an overuse injury and it's a spectrum of injury. So every single time you run, bones actually break down a little bit, and then they will actually build up to the normal strength when you allow adequate rest and recovery thereafter.
  • If you were breaking down your bone faster than it can heal itself up, then over time, that bone is going to crack and it's going to swell and that actually might break all the way through depending on how long your pain has been present.
  • There are two reasons for a bone stress injury. First, if you are not taking in enough fuel to meet your body's baseline physiology, there no fuel left in the tank to heal an injury when it occurs.
  • The second reason that you tend to get a bone stress injury in females is if you've been under fueling for long enough, your physiology will actually start to change and so you will slow down every process in your body in the name of conserving energy.
  • A stress fracture is a diagnosis, but I think it's also a symptom of a larger problem. Stress injuries happen for a variety of reasons and unless we address each one of those individual reasons, you're going to end up back in my office again.
  • Reasons could include looking at your training load and getting adequate rest days. How are you loading your body on what surface and what shoes? What are your biomechanics? What does your anatomy look like?
  • Fitness is not a look. Fitness is a feeling. Fitness is strength and fitness is power and fitness does not have a look. It's how you feel with sports.
  • I think that women deserve unique care that's individualized to them and their body's unique needs.

Dr. Brett Woods, Ph.D., sports psychologist, The University of Kansas Health System

  • On the mental side, when you have a whole lifestyle built around competition and training and then when you get injured, it can feel like the rug was just pulled from under you.
  • I look at the existing coping strategies among athletes, because one of the things that we often find is that we put so much of our identity in the sport -- then when you don't have that outlet, it feels like you may lose some of that identity.
  • We have to understand our connection to pain and how we understand pain in our body. Because a lot of athletes they think you have to just push through pain. But when you ignore it, that can make it worse. So we have to learn to tune in to our body and acknowledge what our body is telling us.
  • Some of the things that are unique to the Female Athlete Program are around nutrition and holistic care.
  • My component of it is to really help athletes better understand their bodies. In some of the sports where you have uniforms being a part of the evaluation process -- like gymnastics, like diving, like wrestling -- what we tend to see are unhealthy relationships with body in relation to nutrition and exercise.
  • We have to be very targeted in disrupting and challenging some negative stereotypes and core beliefs that can exist around female sports.

Tuesday, April 2 at 8 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. As part of Women in Sports Week, learn more about how a new form of measuring metabolism helps with reaching nutrition, weight loss, and other health goals.

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