Were you motivated to return to participating in sports activities by the “trickle-down effect” of watching the Olympic games? Watching elite athletes participate in traditional events like running or swimming inspires many to get back on the track or in the pool. This year, the Tokyo games also featured five new sports: baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, and surfing. Perhaps watching one of the 18 new events featuring 474 new athletes encouraged you to take your old skateboard for a spin around the block or drop your board in the water and paddle out.
In addition to the Olympics, fall sports like soccer and football are underway here in Northwest Florida and across the country. Whether you are participating in a recreational league or your child is resuming play on an extracurricular high school team, it is crucial to recognize that soft-tissue injuries often go hand-in-hand with a quick return to sports. Typically, they are categorized as either an acute injury or an overuse injury.
- Acute injuries are caused by sudden trauma like a body blow or a fall, resulting in Boutonniere Injuries or Distal Radius Fractures.
- Overuse injuries occur gradually over time when a particular area of the body doesn’t have time to heal between occurrences and commonly include injuries like Little Leaguer’s Elbow or Olecranon Bursitis.
Since many soft-tissue injuries occur when the duration, intensity or frequency of your activities increases, proper conditioning and training are necessary for prevention. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons also recommends the following additional soft-tissue injury preventative measures:
- Use proper equipment. Replace your athletic shoes as they wear out. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that let you move freely and are light enough to release body heat.
- Aim for balanced fitness. Develop a balanced fitness program that incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility. Add activities and new exercises cautiously. Whether you have been sedentary or are in good physical shape, do not try to take on too many activities at one time. It is best to add no more than one or two new activities per workout.
- Warm-up. Warm-up to prepare for exercise, even before stretching. Run in place for a few minutes, breathe slowly and deeply, or gently rehearse the motions of the exercise to follow. Warming up increases your heart and blood flow rates and loosens up muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints.
- Drink water. Drink enough water to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Drink 1 pint of water 15 minutes before you start exercising and another pint after you cool down. Have a drink of water every 20 minutes or so while you exercise.
- Cool down. Make cooling down the final phase of your exercise routine. It should take twice as long as your warm-up. Slow your motions and lessen the intensity of your movements for at least 10 minutes before you stop completely. This phase of a safe exercise program should conclude when your skin is dry, and you have cooled down.
- Stretch. Begin stretches slowly and carefully until reaching a point of muscle tension. Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, then slowly and carefully release it. Inhale before each stretch and exhale as you release. Do each stretch only once. Never stretch to the point of pain, always maintain control and never bounce on a muscle that is fully extended.
- Rest. Schedule regular days off from vigorous exercise and rest when tired. Fatigue and pain are good reasons not to exercise.
- Avoid "weekend warrior" syndrome. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you are truly pressed for time, you can break it up into 10-minute chunks.
With injuries that are acute or due to overuse, if the symptom persists or impacts performance or quality of life, it is vital to seek treatment by a physician to avoid worsening pain, permanent damage or disability. The fellowship-trained physicians at The Hand Center, Dr. Steven Kronlage, Dr. Alex Coleman and Dr. James Piorkowski, provide non-surgical treatment options and surgical intervention for adult and pediatric patients. We also offer same-day and next-day appointments in our Gulf Breeze and Pensacola locations, as well as telehealth visits. State-of-the-art, on-site imaging and diagnostics are also available at both locations to make visits as convenient as possible.
Give us a call today at 850.807.4200 or schedule an appointment online.