US Women's Soccer Stars Highlight Risks of Heading

We applaud that three members of the 1999 World Cup championship US Women's Soccer team are speaking out on the risks of brain injury from heading. Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, and Cindy Parlow Cone -- who's a Dragonwing girlgear spokesperson -- have joined forces with the Sports Legacy Institute and the Santa Clara Institute of Sports Law to form Parents and Pros for Safer Soccer and are pushing for rules changes to prohibit heading by players under 14. In a recent New York Times article on the effort, Parlow Cone, who ended her playing career in part because of concussion-related headaches and fatigue, says, “Soccer might not be football, but we do know now that brain injuries in soccer is a huge issue, and is a very serious issue.... We need to do better for our kids.”

#SaferSoccer Priority for Parlow Cone

Knowing Cindy Parlow Cone as we do (she's a spokesperson for Dragonwing), it's hard to imagine a time when this former soccer superstar and tireless advocate for sports safety and girls empowerment had no desire to play and "basically went to sleep every chance had."

Cindy Parlow Cone: As adults we have a responsibility to make soccer safer."But that's the impact concussions, sustained during practices and games, had on her -- injuries that led to her retirement. And that's why she speaks regularly and passionately about the importance of concussion education and prevention, especially in youth sports.

Along with former US Women's National Team teammates Brandi Chastain and Joy Fawcett, Cindy is part of a campaign (#SaferSoccer) to educate parents and coaches on the risks of headers in soccer for girls and boys younger than 14.

Most recently, Cindy offered her story at a medical seminar organized by U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer as part of a coaches' conference on player health and safety.

According to an Associated Press story on the seminar, "Parlow Cone still deals with the symptoms of what she estimates were dozens of concussions she suffered through during her career….

'I went from a kid that just loved training, loved everything about soccer…to someone who kind of went into a shell…' "

As a girls' soccer coach today, Cindy doesn't even teach heading to her players. Instead she teaches them to bring the ball to the ground with other parts of their bodies. "As adults, we have a responsibility to ."

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Nutrition Bars for Pre and Post Practices, Work-outs and Games

Essential to athletics is nourishment before and after workouts, and granola and nutritional bars are the go-to snack. Often misunderstood, bars from Nature Valley to Cliff all look similar and advertise health. How do you know which is the healthiest? Do they sufficiently nourish girls before and after sports? Dragonwing girlgear Ambassador Abby uncovers the truth about bars. Before exercise, athletes need a snack that is 75% carbs and 25% protein to provide energy and repair and build muscle during activity. However, many popular bars are composed of more fat than protein. Before choosing a bar, make sure to read the label and look for the grams of protein, fats, and sugars. Erin Palinski-Wade, a registered dietician recommends the “rule of 5.” Having at least 5 grams of protein, fiber and unsaturated fat results in a filling pre-game food choice. Equally as important after a game or workout, eating a healthy recovery snack ensures maximum muscle restoration. Athletes need to stay hydrated and consume a similar healthy bar with protein and carbs. Post-workout, these nutrients repair muscles, replenish the body’s glycogen stores, and prevent muscle soreness. The best recovery snack choices either are or are composed of whole foods for their micronutrients and essential fiber. Often the ingredients lists for bars are long and unrecognizable. After being refined and processed, these ingredients lose many of the nutrients essential to muscle repair. Next time you’re in the grocery store, flip over your prospective bar to see if you recognize the first few ingredients. Bar companies such as RX bars, Dale’s Raw Foods and Kind Bars are great examples of bars with wholesome, healthy ingredients that provide great nutrients. Combining that with the rule of 5, the only section left to check is sugars. Many bars add refined sugar, which contains no essential nutrients, to compensate for the tarter taste of proteins. Our philosophy is to forego any bar with refined sugar. Sugar is a key factor in inflammation - so avoid it, especially after a game or workout. Let us know in the comments what bars you’ve found best for pre and post games, practices or workouts. ARTICLES REFERENCED