Stories about: Sports & exercise

Lyle Micheli: 40 years at the Boston Marathon finish line

From marathon volunteer to injury prevention pioneer—it’s all part of Dr. Lyle Micheli’s mission to keep runners and athletes of all types on the field.

Sore quads. That’s one of Lyle Micheli’s memories from the 1975 Boston Marathon. But Dr. Micheli, Director of Boston Children’s Sports Medicine, wasn’t sore from running. As a medical volunteer at what was a “very informal” event in 1975, Micheli spent the day ducking and “limboing” under the ropes marking the last feet of the 26.2-mile run and making sure the athletes were OK to proceed beyond the finish area.

Since that day, running has gained tremendous popularity. The Boston Marathon has increased from a mere 1,000 runners in 1975 to 30,000 in 2015. Micheli has been at the finish line year after year as a way to give back to his beloved city and the historic race.

The medical tent has matured from an informal crew stocked with Bands-Aids, beef stew and water to a highly sophisticated organization, comprised of multiple teams of medical professionals with designated assignments.

Still, nothing prepared Micheli and other volunteers for 2013. “We weren’t equipped with life-saving equipment.”  Forty years earlier, as a member of the U.S. Air Force, Micheli had received evacuation training. It kicked in—he jerry-rigged a tourniquet from a runner’s jacket and triaged injured spectators.

Micheli will be on hand at the finish line again in 2015. While his primary motivation is community service, Micheli and Boston Children’s Sports Medicine staff and patients reap plenty of benefits from their commitment to the race. “We encourage all of our fellows to attend. It’s a model for mass casualty training.” Plus, the doctors learn by observing elite athletes.

In the last 10 years, for instance, the science of injury prevention has emerged. “We’ve learned how various running techniques and different shoes contribute to injury risk. We’re using this information to guide our Injured Runner’s Clinic at The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention in Waltham.”

For more on Micheli’s other accomplishments in the 1970s, learn how he improvised an innovative solution to solve the challenge of reconstructing a torn ACL in growing children.


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Marathon pioneer Kathrine Switzer: How I celebrate International Women’s Day


Kathrine Switzer broke the gender barrier at the previous all-male Boston Marathon, won the New York City Marathon, and created women’s running events in 27 countries that spearheaded the women’s marathon into the Olympic Games. She is an Emmy Award-winning sports commentator, the author of three books, and is currently leading ‘261 Fearless’, a women’s empowerment movement through running.

March 8 is International Women’s Day. This day we celebrate the achievements of women with a day of action: more than talk, we will DO.

For me, it’s also a day I happily reflect on my mantra:

Be Fearless, Be Free, Be Grateful.

Our mantras are a reflection of own lives, and sure, mine includes the hard work, risks and the awakenings of many years. But this mantra also evolved from the contributions and collective spirit of many women’s lives, both past and future, and in the spirit of celebration, I’d like to share its evolution with you.

When I first ran the 26.2 mile/42.2 km Boston Marathon wearing bib number 261, I broke a huge barrier of women’s so-called limitation. Barriers are broken when myths are finally shattered, and that comes when women are given an opportunity to prove themselves. Talent and capability exist in all of us; we only need the opportunity to try. Social change and advancement, fearlessness and vision come by adding facts and inspiration, but the opportunity is paramount.

As I write this, I’m on a plane to the 261 Women’s Marathon in Mallorca, and it is most fitting that this event is being held on International Women’s Day, because the event was created as an opportunity for women to experience breaking the myth of their own limitation. Women need to prove to themselves they can take on a challenge and succeed; they need to DO it to understand. The spirit at this particular run is electric and life-changing, because when women run a marathon, they know they can do anything.

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From basketball to tennis: ACL tear can’t keep teen athlete off the court

McCartyWill_PostACLsurgeryAt 12 years old, Will McCarty loved basketball. His summer was planned out—basketball camp and tournament play would prep him for his seventh grade basketball team. Everything was going according to plan—until he stepped on a ball while making a layup.

“We thought it was a simple injury,” says his father Bill. A few days after the injury, he seemed fine. When he tried to run, though, his knee buckled. His parents took Will to his doctor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Manchester, N.H.

A few days later, after the swelling around Will’s knee went down, an MRI revealed a torn ACL. “It felt like a stunning diagnosis,” says Bill. An ACL tear is problematic in growing kids. That’s because ACL reconstruction requires surgeons to drill into the growth plate (the area at the end of the bone that produces new bone tissue and is responsible for bone growth). The surgery could interfere with future growth. Many surgeons recommend waiting until after puberty to perform the surgery.

“This isn’t a great alternative for growing kids,” says Mininder Kocher MD, MPH, associate director, Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital. “They remain at risk for injury with everyday activities, and with a torn ACL, they can’t play sports, which can negatively impact their emotional health.”

“Our doctor told us, ‘There’s a guy in Boston who’s the kingpin of ACL surgery for growing kids,’”recalls Bill. With that endorsement, the family made an appointment with Kocher.

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Not into team sports? Self-esteem boosting physical activities for kids

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade, in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1We all know that physical activity is an important aspect of our family’s health. An active lifestyle is linked with a number of benefits including:

  • increased bone strength
  • increased lean muscle mass
  • healthy weight
  • reduced anxiety and depression
  • improved mood
  • improved sleep
  • decreased risk of illness, such as cardiac disease and diabetes

But not every child is cut out for team or competitive sports. And that’s okay!

Your child can have fun, develop greater confidence and enjoy socialization without throwing a ball or running the 500-meter dash. Focus on variety and enjoyment to keep your child motivated to stay active long-term.

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