Suns Training Staff Holds Clinic for Employees

By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Oct. 19, 2011

It’s been said that a healthy person has a million wishes, but an unhealthy person only has one. In order to keep the US Airways Center employees focusing on a multitude of wishes, the Suns’ training staff held a free clinic in an attempt to answer their health questions last week.

Organized by Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and Suns GM Lance Blanks, Suns head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson, Suns strength and conditioning coach Mike Elliot and Suns assistant athletic trainer Tom Maystadt educated the employees about a variety of health issues. Known as the most progressive medical staff in the league, it was an outstanding opportunity for employees and their families to get the inside scoop from the premier training staff in league.

“Without hesitation I can say that they are the best at what they do in the league,” Babby said. “They are known for being the most creative and innovative in the league. We are really lucky to have them.”

The Suns’ training staff is consistently among the tops in the league in injury prevention, far ahead of the league average. Nelson, who won the 2009 NBA Trainer of the Year Award, will be entering his 12th season as the team’s head athletic trainer.

Elliot, who started with the organization as a ball kid, is entering his third season as the Suns strength and conditioning coach. Maystadt, on the other hand, will enter his third season as the Suns assistant athletic trainer, although Nelson said that he had been trying to hire him for 12 years prior to him taking the position.

Nelson opened up the clinic by giving the audience facts and figures out the state of health in America. One of the areas he tried to zero in on was obesity.

Since 65 percent of the country is either overweight or obese, Nelson gave advice of how to avoid that kind of predicament.

“If at age 12 if you’re obese, there is a 75 percent chance of remaining obese as an adult,” Nelson said. “By the time you’re an adult, if you’re obese, you have over a 90 percent chance at remaining obese.”

With type2 diabetes affecting children as early as 10 years old and $75 billion being spent on weight-related issues a year, Nelson talked about how nutrition and exercise could prevent obesity.

“If I had a list of the top 10 best pieces of nutritional advice, No. 1 would be don’t trust diets,” Nelson said. “And No. 10 would be don’t trust diets.”

He suggested that the employees check out choosemyplate.gov for sound nutritional advice. There are all sorts of tips, resources and research that are provided by the USDA on the site.

Another factor Nelson stressed in managing one’s weight was getting enough sleep. The number that people should shoot for is 6.5 hours of sleep a night, otherwise they're in danger of adding weight.

Nelson noted that a person burns 150 calories per hour while they sleep. Besides proper rest and nutrition, the Suns’ head trainer also provided an exercise portion of the clinic.

“Adults should engage in 30 minutes a day of moderate activity a day,” Nelson said. “Children need 60 minutes a day.”

Due to the sedentary lifestyle that many people find themselves partaking in, Nelson said that 80 percent of adults complain of back pain. He believes that carving out just 15 minutes for certain exercises a day can go a long way towards eliminating back pain.

However, the entire training staff stressed that before developing an exercise regimen, a person should possess good flexibility and have corrected any prior muscle imbalances or injuries.

"Once you’ve got flexibility down, you can work on strength and activation,” Nelson said. “Otherwise you’re building through a range of motion that you don’t have.”

In addition to flexibility lengthening muscles, Nelson also talked about the need to correct the positions that most of us put ourselves into for the majority of the day.

His staff also walked the employees through some foam rolling exercises, as well as a stretching routine. The last portion of the night focused on a form of CPR that was developed at the Sarver Heart Center in Tucson called continuous-chest-compression CPR. As opposed to traditional mouth-to-mouth CPR, studies have shown that victims that have received continuous-chest-compression CPR have a better percentage chance at surviving than those that received mouth-to-mouth.

After opening the clinic up to questions, Nelson gave the employees to a few helpful websites to use as references if they need it.

Besides choosemyplate.gov, Nelson recommended Webmd.com and Dr. Oz’s sharecare.com for health questions, also pointing to Dr. Oz’s Transformation Nation weight loss challenge as something to investigate.

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