Junior shares sports medicine research

Mila Barzdukas

Jamie Skaggs ’15 conducted scientific studies with Children’s Hospital and presented her findings in Ahmenson Lecture Hall during break Feb. 3.

Skaggs participated in two studies conducted by Children’s Hospital last year and traveled to Singapore last summer to present her studies at the International Youth Sports Science Conference.

Skaggs’ first study determined what position was the best one to be in during recovery.

“Coaches tell us to put our hands above our head after we run, but it always seemed easier to bend over,” Skaggs said.

When Skaggs researched the topic, she found little research had been done in the field. Her father, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, suggested that she do a paper on the subject.

To conduct her study, she also had to become a certified researcher at Children’s Hospital, get her study approved by the Internal Review Board and take online classes on good clinical practice. She tested for three positions: hands on head, hands on knees and hands by your sides.

She conducted her study on 17 members of last year’s track team. Skaggs determined being bent over was the best position to recover in, proving coaches  across the country wrong.

“When you place your hands on your knees, you have a greater maximum voluntary ventilation,” Skaggs said. “Participants were able to move more air in and out of their lungs in 12 seconds when their hands were on their knees.”

Skaggs hypothesized that when you raise your hands above your head, you are using accessory muscles that would otherwise be used to facilitate breathing. She also tested to see how flexibility is related to improved athletic performance.

“Although there is a wide belief that flexibility is good for athletics, there is very little evidence to support this,” Skaggs said. “In fact, numerous studies have shown static stretching before exercise decreases athletic performance.”

“The presentation was really informative and professionally executed,” Nathalie Rebolledo ’15 said. “I don’t run that much, but when I do I will make sure to put my hands on my knees.”

Her study is hopefully going to be the first of many conducted with the Harvard-Westlake Center for Sports Science whose head athletic trainer is Milo Sini, Skaggs said.

Skaggs encouraged students to get involved with the center, and hopes next to conduct a study on sleep.