With the warm weather here, many of us are eager to get back in the game – whether it’s tennis, golf, running or basketball. If you’ve been inactive during the winter or spring, don’t jump back into vigorous physical activity without preparation because you may be at risk for injury, says a local physiatrist.
“It’s important to warm up, stretch and ease into exercise to prevent sports injuries,” said Barry Root, MD, chairman of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Glen Cove Hospital. One of the most common injuries is sprains – a stretch or tear of ligament that can take place at the ankles, knees or any joint. Also common are strains, a twist, pull or tear of a muscle or tendon, which is often caused by overuse or force. Examples are tennis elbow, low back strain or runner’s knee.
To help prevent sports injuries, Dr. Root offers these tips:
• Warm up properly – for example, swing a golf club a few times to warm up hips or shoot some baskets to loosen up muscles and joints prior to full participation
• Do some stretching exercises before running, golfing or cycling
• Try to alternate activities so different muscle groups are used
• Make sure you have proper shoe support and appropriate clothing for the sport
“People who take part in regular activities can develop overuse injuries, when they push their bodies past the limit; these conditions accumulate over time and the body is signaling to take it easy,” Dr. Root said. “If you have a more significant injury, such as a torn ligament in your knee, you’ll have to immediately stop what you’re doing on the tennis or basketball court and seek medical help.”