Banner Fort Collins Medical Center

SPR 2016

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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2 7 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S P R I N G 2 016 S P I R I T O F W O M E N SHUTTERSTOCK I f 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 activity 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. 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," explains Dr. Chris Varacallo, a sports medicine physician who is affiliated with Penn Highlands Healthcare in DuBois, Pa. "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. Varacallo. "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, compared with 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. 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. Laurence Laudicina, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Lovelace Women's Hospital, Albuquerque, N.M. "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. Dan DiChristina, an orthopedic surgeon at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. "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 Matt Ironside, director of physical therapy at Aspirus Riverview Therapies in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. "Don't try to cram all your physical activity into the weekend," recommends Ironside, who is affiliated with Riverview Medical Center, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. "Get a moderate amount of cardio work and weight training in over the course of the week. Get your body used to being active." TREATMENT TACTICS Despite all the precautions in the world, sports injuries can still happen. However, most overuse injuries are minor and can be treated easily. "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. Laudicina. "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 Ironside. "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," explains Dr. Varacallo, adding that "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." • Sports injury warning signs Check in with your physician if you're experiencing: • pain that inhibits your daily activities or doesn't go away within a few days • numbness in the affected area • substantial swelling • loss of feeling • decreased range of motion k d

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