Letters to the editor

Lettres au rédacteur

More stimulation

To the editor:

Further to Dr. Richard L. Hughson’s remarks in Champion (March, 1981): Dr. Hughson continues to use his academic platform to make sweeping generalizations and moral judgements without the need to prove them or put them to practical use.

As a coach I must live in the real world where my work will be judged on the track. Like most coaches in Canada, I must deal with problems and shortages I know our toughest competitor nations don’t have. I’m not going to suggest that the rest of the world go backward; rather, I will continue to do the best I can under the circumstances. I must say it is disappointing to work in the face of opposition from people who could (and should) be of help.

As for my comments in Today Magazine (not Weekend), I tried to draw a comparison between a very high heart rate and a theoretical maximum rate for the average sedentary reader — Today Magazine’s average reader age is over 40.

Dr. Hughson goes on to suggest that I “leave the comments on science to those who know something about it.’’ For the last year I have worked in consultation with Dr. Jozef Cywinski, director of Medical Engineering at the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Cywinski is eminently qualified in the field of electrical muscle stimulation.

Charles Francis, Sprints Coach.

To the editor:

Champion (March 1981) published a letter from Dr. Richard L. Hughson, questioning the issues involved in electrical muscle stimulation used for athletic training. I disagree with Dr. Hughson’s statement that surface electrodes used by athletes stimulate surface muscles and with his speculation on the potential of developing imbalance between the surface and deeper muscles which may lead to injury of the athlete.

The deeper muscle layers can be and are stimulated with appropriate electrode placement and selecting proper electric pulse energy content. The extreme case in point would be an example of effective heart muscle stimulation with externally-place electrodes. Such stimulation is used routinely for life-saving procedures on hundreds of patients daily, world-wide.

Regarding the skeletal muscle stimulation, once the supramaximal tetany is reached on the surface muscle and the stimulating energy is adequately increased, the deeper muscles are recruited, thus achieving as strong a tetany as in the surface muscle.

From 1953 to 1967, I manufactured muscle stimulators in Eastern Europe. Some were used by athletic groups. I had no direct or implied injury reported during those 14 years and with 4000 stimulators in use. Furthermore, recent reports, especially from the leading physiotherapy groups in Canada (Johnson et al., Carleton University, Ottawa, and Godfrey et al., Wellesley Hospital, Toronto) and Sweden (Erikson et al., Karolina Sjukhuset, Stockholm) indicate that electrical stimulation of the quadriceps not only improves the muscle function but also prevents recurrence of the injury to the knee joint. They also state that “tetanizing electrical stimulation is a more effective method of building strength in the muscle than isometric, isotomic or an iskinetic mode of exercise” (Physiotherapy Canada, v. 31, Sept. 1979).

A simple conclusion is clear: electric muscle stimulation is here to stay as an effective adjunct to other methods of athletic training. The research on this may be of worthwhile interest for the University of Waterloo Kinesiology department of which Dr. Hughson is a member.

Jozef K. Cywinski, Ph.D., M.S.E.E., C.C.E., FACC.

Competition the point

To the editor:

In Scholarships: a prickly question (Champion, November, 1980), I feel that the main point of the problem was missed. To me, the most pressing concern should be availability and quality of competition.

Canada is a vast country with a spread-out population. There are more people in California than in all of Canada and California is the hub of the American sports world. A Canadian team, whether swimming, soccer, football, basketball, or the racquet sports, can be sent to California for less money and for far stiffer competition than is the case anywhere across Canada.

Simon Fraser University is the only Canadian university which competes in a regular American circuit and is — to use swimming lingo — at the Division Two level. There is no point in sending a Division One athlete there. He or she will never come up against the competition which is so necessary for improvement.

Not only would the travelling costs be astronomical for Canadian universities to compete against each other, but would anything be gained? Would the competition be there? Do we have the numbers? Do we have the coaches?

We first need a much higher level of education for coaches. There are far too many volunteer and salaried coaches who are on ego trips and do more harm than good. Change the word ‘coach’ to ‘teacher’ and a completely different picture comes to mind. More knowledge, much more knowledge, is an absolute must. I would like to see a university program specializing in coaching and majoring in one particular sport. There could perhaps be one program in the east and one in the west.

Existing sports facilities could be put to better use. For example, the Burnaby Sports Complex, the main site of the 1973 Canada Summer Games, could be established by the federal government as a training centre for Canadian athletes all year round. Despite the rain, Vancouver has the ideal weather for the training of athletes. And close at hand is Simon Fraser University, the Pacific Vocational Institute, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and numerous secondary schools. Most importantly, California’s stiff competition is relatively nearby so travel costs are less.

If you really think about it, most of Canada’s top athletes come from the west or are trained in the west. I’m not taking anything away from the east. The same situation exists in the States. Our competition is not in Canada — it is across the 49th parallel.

Marianne Baylis

A bouquet

To the editor:

I’ve just spent a most enjoyable morning reading my first copy of Champion (March 1981).

The accent on women in sport was intriguing and stimulating, especially since I had the opportunity of becoming the first woman to assume a leadership role in the sport of tenpin bowling internationally, being elected president of the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) American Zone — a first for Canada.

An amusing anecdote — I was elected in absentia by the Conference of Delegates, nearly all men, in Panama in 1977. When my name was proposed, 90 per cent of the delegates being unilingual Spanish, it was understood to be ‘John’ Esary and, as Canada was hosting the next FIQ American Zone Championship in 1981, I was elected. Only after the fact did they realize they had elected a women — unheard of in Latin America.

I must admit that I did not have the experience of “struggling” to achieve such recognition but I feel comfortable and satisfied with my performance. Although I accidentally entered a “man’s world”, I have been accepted on my own merit and have shared a state of mutual respect. I am still the only woman on the FIQ World Presidium which amazes me not a little. My travels around the world have brought me in contact with many highly efficient women who, regrettably, are living in countries less enlightened than those of the Western Hemisphere.

My intent was not to relate my personal history but, rather, to compliment you on a very interesting issue. I look forward to the next one.

Mrs. Joan W. Esary, President, Canadian Tenpin Federation.