Concussions important issue for girl athletes-updated info here

There have been many articles and efforts to improve safety on the soccer field for women and girls.  As an update to our posts of six years ago, I provide new information on prevention and training alternatives from Cindy Parlow Cone and Excelle.com

Our original articles are here:

Don’t be fooled by common misconceptions about concussions.

A great article on concussions from Taylor Twellman.

Recovering from a Climbing Concussion

and new information can be found here:

Pro players speak out about the ‘absurdity’ of the concussion protocol in women’s soccer

Check out these excellent video on the what Cindy Parlow Cone’s experience learning to head the ball at 18 -and still being a World Cup Champ and Olympian!

http://bit.ly/2t0FV3P

http://bit.ly/2u5o9MP

 

Last Firsts from a Soccer Mom.

It is that time of year for parents of high school seniors when we’re enjoying the last -firsts of many club and high school events.  Last first soccer game of the year, last first day of the last semester, last club night.   Looking back at all the things I’ve learned, I’ve decided (rather than wallow),  I’d share a few of the most useful lessons.  From the importance of chocolate milk to the recruiting process.  Make sure to catch next few blogs.  I’d love to hear your stories and tips too!

Here’s to team Glow Angel -where it all started, and to the coaches, parents and friends I’ve made on the fields.

xo

MaryAnne

Dynamic Stretching advice from Dr. Lindsay Di Stefano and Dragonwing

Spring sports tryouts are underway -and warming up safely is key to playing well and minimizing the risk of injury. In this blog, we asked Dr. Lindsay Di Stefano to provide readers with evidence-based, practical information to help encourage safe and healthy participation in sports for all athletes, but with a special focus for pre-adolescent and adolescent girls.

First Step to Any Activity: A Proper Warm-up

In the past, you may have witnessed this scene –fifteen girls put their bags down and jog around the soccer field together. They stop at midfield and align themselves in a circle with one teammate in the center. This “captain” leads her team through a series of static stretches by counting off 30 seconds per stretch. After the team has completed a few stretches, they walk off the field to their waiting coach and begin practice. Have you seen this scenario before?
I surely have! Here is an example of another common scenario frequently played out on youth sport fields: The team arrives, they start talking to one another, catching up on the day’s events, and may start juggling or passing to one another before the actual practice begins. Or a third scenario occurs when an athlete walks out of their front door and starts running three miles. Unfortunately, the athletes in all three scenarios are not helping themselves be as prepared as possible for any training, practice, or game. Not only are these athletes not putting their bodies in the best condition for performance, but they may also be increasing their risk of injury.
A better solution to these examples above is to gradually prepare your body for the upcoming activity. Generally, the first thing to do is to start increasing your heart rate, which will begin to “warm-up” your muscles. There are many ways to accomplish this goal. You can walk at progressively faster speeds, leading to a jog, possibly incorporate some quicker runs, or you can ride a bike with low resistance, or even play a small game that involves low to moderate effort. The goal is to just get your body moving!
After you are feeling “warm” and perhaps even sweating a little bit, you can start performing some specific exercises for various muscles. These exercises will help the muscles get used to working (producing force) while they are moving. Here is where the big difference lies between traditional “static stretching” and a “dynamic warm-up”. Once you have “warmed up” your body through gradual exercise, you do not want to stand in place and essentially cool it down. Static stretches that are held for a long period of time may also interfere with your muscles’ ability to work effectively. Research has shown that a dynamic warm up helps to more effectively prepare the body for athletic participation.

Instead of performing static stretches, try some of these dynamic movements. Similar to the warm up activity, you should gradually progress the speed and intensity used for these exercises. The goal is that you are ready to jump into full-speed activity when you are finished with these exercises.

Walking knee to chest
Walking knee to opposite shoulder
Walking quad stretch
Walking hamstring stretch- one foot in front, sit back onto back leg and lean forward towards front foot, front knee straight and back knee bent, toes down to the ground
Walking calf stretch- same as the walking hamstring stretch expect pull toes/foot upward
Walking lunge/hip flexor stretch- walk out into a lunge, keep body upright,
Side to side lunge/groin stretch
Walking cross over/piriformis stretch
Walking lunge with rotation
Heel walks/Toe walks
Butt kicks
Hamstring kicks
Skipping
Carioca
Lateral shuffles

So next time you see athletes start performing “static” stretches before any physical activity, suggest to them that they should try out some new moves that might help prevent injury and may improve their performance!

The “why” of Dragonwing girlgear.

kickstart_bannerPeople often ask me why I am so passionate about sports and girls and I have a simple, important reason – we need this generation of girls, now more than ever, to reach their potential.  Sports participation at any level is one path to actualizing potential –it is established and proven – we don’t need to create a new program or study its benefits.  But social expectations and social media are getting in the way of girls.  When I realized “the underwear experience” could have an impact, I had an aha moment that I could do something about it.

Let’s take Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.  On one level of the pyramid is community or village – we all know and accept that it takes a village to grow a strong confident girl.  We are happier with friends, family, a team, a tribe.  Belonging is important.   Connections give life meaning (Brene Brown).  Sports provide a natural community.

The next level of the pyramid is self-esteem.  Sports build self-esteem in so many ways, such as setting and achieving goals, graciously winning, building resilience, pushing your comfort zone for what you think you can do and then exceeding it – just to name a few. For more on this, check out this TedEx talk by Alisa Herr.

Unfortunately, feelings about breast development are a top reason girls drop out of sports.  According to a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “three quarters of school-aged girls report breast-related concerns regarding exercise and sports.”   75%!!!  That’s just not acceptable.  Starting and normalizing conversation about body changes can improve this.  Sports programs frequently recommend protective gear for boys, like cups, or compression shorts, but there is no comparable list recommended for girls. At Dragonwing girlgear, we provide girls that list and more.

Having an excellent-fitting, high-performance sports top – whether it is a bra, cami or thermal tee-shirt, that is designed especially for the athletic girl’s figure, can eliminate worries about underwear malfunction.  Embarrassment about changing bodies can alleviate concerns about body image.  At Dragonwing, we strive to free up emotional energy– so girls can focus on their game – and everything else they want to achieve… because when girls are confident, the possibilities are endless.

 

 

 

My Daughter is So Happy! — Early Product Review

kickstart_banner

We are super excited to share an early product review of the new Racerback Cami that we launched on Kickstarter.   Sara from Ohio’s daughter loves it — and we think YOU will too.

“For the past year, I have been looking for the perfect cami for my 11- year old daughter.  My daughter is not quite ready for a bra but definitely needed something with more coverage than the cotton cami with a shelf that she has been wearing daily under her shirts.

Recently, I received a sample of the Dragonwing Racerback Cami to trial with my daughter.  I am thrilled to say that I have finally found the perfect cami!!

My daughter has never loved a cami so much!  She tried it on for me and was beaming.  The padding in the cami really made her feel more confident and it looked so nice under her shirt. Some of the features of this cami that we love are:

– The material keeps her cool and dry, so it is perfect for any activity.
– The straps are adjustable, so she will be able to wear it for quite awhile and adjust it as she grows
– The racer back design is great for her posture and looks very sporty.
– The padding can be removed for washing or if less coverage is desired.

My daughter wants to wear this cami every day now, so I have been washing it constantly. Even after 10+ washes, the cami still looks as good as new. I am so excited that these camis are on Kickstarter now. I plan on stocking up and buying more in multiple colors. Thank you for creating such a high quality product that makes my daughter feel confident with her body.

Sincerely,
 Sara
(Mom and Devoted Dragonwing Customer in Ohio)
(Here is the link to copy and paste) http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=bdc62bad8e8c76ee6345a9241&id=2ee2defbf0&e=

Navigating the Child to Tween to Teen Bra Journey with Ease

If you’re anything like me then you have absolutely NO recollection of your first bra-buying experience as a tween 30 years ago. I wish I remembered it as being either a horrific or a pleasant experience because then I’d at least have had a starting point at which to get my daughter comfortable with the topic of wearing a bra. But, no – I had nothing. Not a single point of reference from which to start. Add to that the fact that my daughter is strong-willed and opinionated (not in a bad way, but prominent traits none-the-less) and I was literally at a loss of where and how to start this process.

Enter Dragonwing girlgear. Dragonwing offers a nice progression of undergarments for girls passing from child to tween to teen. Following is an outline of a progression that might work for your daughters.

Un-Tee cami sports top (camisole with inner shelf bra) in 7 colorsI started my process perusing the undergarment sections of stores like Target and Old Navy. I was determined to have my 11-year old wear age-appropriate undergarments that she would still be comfortable being in around her friends and teammates if that situation arose. While I’m sure we could have found acceptable solutions at those stores, I knew that my daughter was also VERY shy and going to a store and picking through racks of bras was not going to be her cup of tea so I bought a bunch and had her try them on at home. She hated how they stopped in the middle of her rib cage and refused to wear them because they didn’t “go all the way down” to her waist. So began my search for a full-length top with a built-in bra. I measured my daughter and started my online shopping research. While on Amazon I bumped into Dragonwing and, as I usually do, I went straight to the main Dragonwing website instead of purchasing through Amazon. I find the main websites have a larger selection of products so I always start there, and then depending on prices and options I may purchase from Amazon if there’s free shipping. I was pleasantly surprised to find both at Dragonwing – free shipping and a larger selection than was on Amazon. A win-win.

The first bra that caught my eyes was the Un-Tee Sports-Cami. It was PERFECT! Not only did it “go all the way down” but it also had a built in shelf-bra that functioned as more than just a second layer of fabric (which is what most cami’s have and they’re useless). It was of a very high quality and after learning more about them I came to understand that some girls can wear these all the way up through 7th or 8th grade!
This bra gave my daughter the confidence to wear it without her belly being “exposed” and got her used to the idea of a bra that cuts across your rib cage – because we all know that’s just a fact…bras stop below your breasts.
She’s been wearing these Un-Tees for over a year now and they’ve been washed a million times. They’ve been a wonderful first bra experience for my daughter.

half-teeAbout six months into her wearing the Un-Tees, I dropped some of the Half Tee Sports Tops into her drawer. The Half Tee is essentially the inside layer of the Un-Tee Sports Camis and they fit exactly the same. I figured that once my daughter was used to wearing the Un-Tee she might migrate easily to the Half Tee and she totally did! Before I knew it she was wearing them all the time – even beneath her gymnastics leotards and I was dreading that conversation because most of the sports bras girls wore under their leotards were uncomfortable to her.

the-keyhole-white-frontAnd, while we’re still on this bra journey together, I am finally comfortable with our path and that my daughter will have a pleasant experience. There are so many other, more important things I want to focus on with my daughter that I don’t want things like wearing a bra to muddy the waters! I’m actually looking forward to her next bra steps – which I’m sure will include either the School to Sport Bra or the Keyhole Sports Bra – and while I don’t know if she’ll remember this experience 30 years from now, I AM confident that Dragonwing has had a very positive impact on my daughter’s life and well-being.
Here’s to you and your daughter starting your journey! Hopefully this was helpful.

Contributed by customer Naomi Marr14199296_10209347712106579_1201097066114495733_n

5 Back-to-School Tips for Active Girls

 

The start of the school year is filled with anticipation, excitement, great promise, and sometimes anxiety. What will my teachers and classes be like? Will I make new friends? Will my “old” friends still be my friends? And, when transitioning to a new school, will I fit in?

Girl with backpack and bike back to school

At Dragonwing girlgear, our mission is to empower girls in sports and in life. Building connections, feeling confident inside and out, and making routines and transitions as smooth as possible can help get the school year off to a great start! Here are our 5 back-to-school tips:

1. JOIN A TEAM OR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, IN OR OUT OF SCHOOL. Being part of a team is a great way for girls to make friends, stay active, reduce stress, improve mental health, and develop lifelong skills – like teamwork and resilience — that are the benefits of sports participation.

2. CHOOSE CLOTHING THAT GIVES GIRLS COMFORT AND CONFIDENCE FROM THE INSIDE OUT. The start of school, particularly for girls whose bodies are changing, can be a time of hyper self-awareness. Research shows that girls are starting puberty, marked by the start of breast development, significantly earlier than 15 years ago, sometimes as young as 8 or 9 years old.

Regardless of when they first need a bra, girls want something comfortable that provides enough coverage so they don’t feel self-conscious and fits them just right, so they can move and play with confidence. Girls and parents alike want a first bra to be age-appropriate, not the padded or plunging bras of Victoria’s Secret, Target, and other retailers.

A well-fitting, comfortable sports bra, like our Keyhole and Racer sports bras, or a sports camisole with an inner layer, like our Un-Tee Sports Cami, is often the best choice.

3. MAKE THE TRANSITION FROM SCHOOL TO SPORTS EASY, QUICK, AND COMFORTABLE. The start of the school year and fall sports season means girls – and parents – need to make quick transitions from school to practice or competition.

Need to change clothes in the car or on the bus? Concerned about modesty while changing out of school clothes and into sports gear? When getting dressed in the morning, choose base layers (aka “undergarments”) — like our sports bras, camis, and light compression shorts — that are cool and comfortable under “regular” school clothes and make changing for sports quick and easy. No need to completely undress; just take off school clothes and pull on a sports jersey and shorts.

What a girl wears under her uniform can help her feel confident and play her best. Undergarments that are comfortable, fit great, and provide appropriate coverage empower girls to play the sports they love without being distracted by droopy straps, bras or shirts that ride up, or bunching shorts.

4. PLAN AHEAD FOR COOLER WEATHER. While it may be hot and humid now, the arrival of cool, fall weather always seems to surprise us. Afternoon practices and games – or the trip to and from school — can quickly turn chilly or downright cold.

A pair of leggings and a long-sleeve top under sports gear can keep a girl athlete warm, agile, and in the game. Moisture-wicking fabric is a must, so the sweat moves away from the skin and girls stay dry and warm. When shopping, consider the sport as well as the fit. Many soccer girls love our Capri-length Chill Weight Leggings because they don’t interfere with shin guards.

5. THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS A GIRL NEEDS ON HER FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL WON’T FIT INTO HER BACKPACK OR GYM BAG. She carries these treasures inside herself: a spirit of adventure and curiosity, a desire to learn and tackle new challenges, and a sense of confidence in herself.

**********

A slightly revised version of this post originally appeared on the Sports Mom Survival Guide, a great resource for parents of young athletes with tips, ideas, and recipes. 

 

Importance of Rest for Tween, Teen Athletes

For a tween or teen athlete, rest is a critical part of her training. I know that sounds slightly counterintuitive given that mastery of a sport requires hours, months, and years of practice. But rest contributes to athletic performance  in many ways.

The first is simply to avoid injuries. As tween and teen girls train and practice in any sport, they incur microscopic injuries — tiny muscle tears, a slight strain or sprain. A day or two of rest allows those small injuries to heal and not develop into bigger injuries.

Rest is even more critical for year-round athletes whether soccer, softball, swimming, or gymnastics. Those athletes are using the same muscle groups repetitively, so rest is needed to avoid overuse injuries. For example, year-round swimmers often take time off in August (ironic that swimmers aren’t swimming during the hottest month of the year). They can bike, run, or laze around but no hard core training.

Rest is also important for an athlete’s mental game. In sport as in love, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” When your daughter started playing her sport, she likely did so because it was fun. It’s still important, at any age and any skill level, for the sport to remain fun. That doesn’t mean that the athletes shouldn’t work hard, but as coaches and parents, one of our jobs is to nurture the love of the sport. Taking a physical break from training and competition can strengthen that love.

Finally, sleep — the deepest form of rest — keeps athletes at the top of their game. Literally. These kids work hard balancing  school, chores, family commitments, a social life, and sports. As fellow blogger Emma said so well, their plates are really, really full. In order to function at their best, athletes need plenty of sleep to restore body and mind. Most pediatricians recommend an average eight to nine hours of sleep. That means turning off computers, phones, televisions and getting into bed at a reasonable hour.

So rest is really a three-legged stool–rest the body to prevent injury, rest the mind to maintain love for the sport, and get a good night’s sleep to put it all together.

 

Sports Parent’s Role: The Cheering Section

Dragonwing girlgear’s mission is to “empower girls to play – and be – their best” with the highest quality sports apparel for tween and teen girls. I believe we can advance that mission when we encourage parents to support their athletic daughters at every level of competition.

Over the past seven years, I have seen all sorts of behavior from parents at summer swim meets. In our city, summer swim is a rec league sport, or to put it bluntly, no college coach is going to scout a swimmer at summer meet. Summer swim is meant to be fun, build teamwork, develop sportsmanship, and teach leadership. We all love to win, but at the end of the night, the score is really not that important.

I’m proud to say that our summer swim team is known throughout the league for good sportsmanship. The coaches receive numerous emails from opponents about how well our kids behave and that is a BIG point of pride for us. However, it’s past time for many parents to step up and learn to be good sports parents.

Parents need to learn that our children are not miniature versions of ourselves. They are their own unique individuals, with their own sets of skills, abilities, likes and dislikes. I nearly drowned as a child and have a very healthy fear of water. I have to be coaxed into a pool. My daughter lives to swim. Go figure.

Our job as parents is to get our young athletes to practice or competition on time, with the right gear, fed and hydrated appropriately. It involves planning, logistics, lots of  laundry, and teaching organization and time management to older kids.

The coach’s job is to coach. He or she generally knows more about the sport than any parent does. It is his or her job to take a group of kids with different abilities and personalities and teach them to work as a team. Even if you were a high school or college athlete, it’s time now to stay on the sidelines and support your  growing athlete. Cheer for her and cheer for her teammates. Offer support and encouragement. And enjoy!

 

A Swimmer’s Body

I want to start by saying that most older teen female swimmers HAVE bodies. They have hips, thighs, butts, breasts, shoulders and some curves. They have confidence. Looking like a string bean is out. Looking and being strong and powerful is in.

This a big change for me as a former high school and college distance runner. I am short (good for a distance runner) but more solidly built than a toothpick. For most distance runners, it really is a case of “less is more.” For years my coaches bugged me about losing weight, so I would be faster.

Back to swimming. Swimmers who are training hard eat a LOT. Not junk. But high quality calories—carbs, fats, proteins. That tremendous caloric output during heavy training has to be matched by a healthy caloric intake.  Anna eats dinner #1 around 5:00 pm for her 6:00 pm practice. She gets home around 8:30 pm, showers, and then has dinner #2 which is more like a heavy snack. It usually involves some fruit, peanut butter, or leftovers from dinner #1.

So yes, women swimmers have women’s bodies. They are expected to train, to eat well, and to swim their fastest.  Swimmers have broad shoulders and strong bodies, and those are something to be admired because they represent dedication and hard work.