Don't Let Sports Injuries Sideline Your Workouts

If you’ve been scared off from trying new fitness activities by your friends’ tales of woe about post-workout pain and soreness, get that exercise gear back out of the closet

The key to expanding—or beginning—an exercise program or sports activities without hurting yourself is knowing how much and what to do. Many sports injuries can be prevented with proper training and preparation, and those that do occur can be minimized with prompt and appropriate treatment.

Remember the ‘FITT’ acronym, which stands for ‘frequency, intensity, type and time,’” says Dr. Lucas King. Monitor how often you engage in an activity, how intense it is, what type of activity you’re doing and how long you do it.

An Ounce of Prevention

As with many other aspects of life, preventing an injury is preferable to treating an injury.

“Remember the ‘FITT’ acronym, which stands for ‘frequency, intensity, type and time,’” says Dr. Lucas King. “Monitor how often you engage in an activity, how intense it is, what type of activity you’re doing and how long you do it.”

Avoid overtraining by easing into a new exercise program. “Work into it gradually,” says
Dr. Jennifer FitzPatrick. “Start out doing 15-minute sessions one week, and then maybe ramp up to 20 minutes the next week, and so on. The big problem is doing too much too soon. If you aren’t active and try to jump right into a 75-minute aerobics session, you’re going to get into trouble with injuries.”

And forget about being a weekend warrior, says Stephan Abraas, DPT, director of physical therapy at Parkview Medical Center.

“Don’t try to cram all your physical activity into the weekend,” says Dr. King. “Get a moderate amount of cardio work and weight training in over the course of the week. Get your body used to being active.”

Common Problems

A sports injury refers to any injury caused by repetitive use of a body part. Most commonly, sports injuries affect the body’s major joints. Runners tend to experience injuries in their knees, hips and ankles, while women who engage in upper-body activities such as tennis and golf see more injuries to elbows and shoulders.

“Tendinitis is probably the most common type of sports injury,” says Dr. Rickland Likes. “In particular, we see a lot of cases of inflammation in the patellar tendon [which connects the kneecap to the shinbone] and tendons in the inside of the foot.”

As you get older, you’re more likely to experience knee problems as well. The knee is a large, weight-bearing hinge joint that has less range of motion than a socket joint, such as the hip or shoulder.

“It’s related to the kneecap and how it fits into the groove in the leg bone,” says Dr. Robert Thomas. “Weight, conditioning and muscle strength all play into injury risk.”

In addition, women are more prone to knee problems due to the width of their pelvic girdle relative to men. Wider hips increase the angle of the hips to the knees, altering how weight is distributed on the knees and leaving them more vulnerable.

Treatment Tactics

Despite all the precautions in the world, sports injuries can still happen. However, most overuse injuries are minor and easily treatable.

“Minor injuries such as strains and sprains can be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, if you don’t have a medical condition that prevents you from taking them,” says Dr. Thomas. “Ice packs, applied several times a day, can also help keep the swelling down.”

Some sports injuries, however, will require medical attention. It might be time to see your doctor if an injury is painful enough to inhibit your daily activities, if there is numbness in the affected area or if the pain doesn’t go away within several days.

“Severity and duration of pain are always indicators of a more severe injury,” says Dr. Likes. “Swelling, a loss of feeling and decreased range of motion are also indicators that you might need a doctor to look at it.”

Above all, be patient if your body doesn’t immediately respond to a new activity the way you were hoping. As you age, getting into shape and recovering from injuries simply takes longer. But the rewards are well worth it in terms of your personal health and wellness.

“Exercise is extremely important to overall health,” says Dr. FitzPatrick. “It’s just a matter of being smart about it. You have to take common sense steps to prevent injuries, and if you do get hurt, know when it’s time to see your doctor.”

Our Ortho Doctors

Jennfier FitzPatrick, MD

Dr. FitzPatrickSpecialties: Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine

“I've always had a calling for medicine, but my path towards orthopedics began as an athlete and patient. Ultimately, I had surgery that helped me return to my senior year of college athletics. That experience is my driving motivation to understand and have greater compassion with my patients."

Rickland Likes, DO

Dr. LikesSpecialty: Orthopedic Surgery

Dr. Rickland Likes, a Colorado native, received his medical education from the University of New England, followed by an internship and orthopedic residency at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, learning the latest techniques in joint replacement, fracture care, and minimally invasive surgery.

Lucas King, MD

Dr. KingSpecialties: Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine

Dr. Lucas King is a sports fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon with a special interest in the care of athletes at the high school, collegiate and professional level as well as weekend warriors. Dr. King provides a wide range of orthopedic care and specializes in disorders of the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee, performing minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. He also performs joint replacement for arthritis. Dr. King serves as a team physician for CSU-Pueblo athletics.

Mark Porter, MD

Dr. PorterSpecialty: Orthopedic Surgery 

Dr. Mark Porter, a 16-year U.S. military veteran, came to Pueblo after his most recent station at Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson, CO.  Dr. Porter began his military career in the Coast Guard before pursuing his undergraduate degree at U.C. Davis and his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.  Dr. Porter completed his residency in the Orthopedic Surgery Program at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Texas Tech University in El Paso, TX.

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