The Complete Sports Medicine Book for Women. By Mona Shangold and Gabe Mirkin. Simon and Shuster Inc. $8.95.
I was going to send this book to my mother, who fits into one of the main audiences Shangold and Mirkin seem to have targeted -- women who "attended school several decades ago" and were "socially programmed to avoid exercises because it was considered 'unfeminine.' "
My mother could relate to the notes about girdles and corsets -- "If you believe your clothes look better when you squeeze your fat into a girdle underneath, you should be exercising to change your body rather than suffering to hide it" -- and support hose -- "Normal, healthy people do not need support hose for sport." And she'd appreciate the well-written chapter on old women -- "Older women need exercise most."
But does the same woman who is just beginning to see the light about exercise really need a chapter on drugs, detailing the illegal and unethical use of steroids, uppers, amphetamines, and cocaine -- " which can turn an aggressive field-hockey player into a raving maniac who fears no one . . ."?
As for covering the gamut, Shangold and Mirkin did it -- diaphrams to depletion, megadose vitamins to menstruation, pronation to pregnancy. This book is sometimes a curious mix of information many women already know, combined with sophisticated knowledge trained athletes may need to bone up on.
Women who already have been exercising for a number of years may find it a good reference book, but they won't find much they haven't already read in women's magazines.
With Shangold's background in gynecology, the reader does get good information in this area, which is often skimmed in other fitness books, such as this note: "Exercise causes temporary alterations in several hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, prolactin. Most of these changes return to normal within an hour or two after cessation of exercise." And this caution: "Competitive athletes who have had Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and who require tampons in order to continue training and competing should ask their gynecologists to prescribe antibiotics to decrease their risks of getting TSS again."
There is a well-illustrated chapter on preventing and treating injuries -- "If you go to your doctor with a sports-related injury and your doctor gives you medicine for pain, telling you to rest and offering you nothing further, find yourself another doctor." There are some interesting notes about leotard and tights, which "shouldn't be outlawed, but their use should certainly be optional -- desirable in cold weather, generally undesirable in warm weather."
To its credit, "Sports Medicine" strikes an enthusiastic tone of encouragement to women of all ages to get out there and get exercising -- the sooner the better.