UPMC Susquehanna – Sports Health

Dr. Golobek’s advice on staying healthy on & off the field

by UPMC Susquehanna – September 4, 2018

It’s hard to believe summer is over. Many student athletes have been busy all summer long preparing for the return to fall sports and as local schools are now back in session, students are taking to the field.

Here today to offer some advice and tips on how to stay healthy and on the field this season is Dr. Donald Golobek from UPMC Susquehanna orthopedics.

We know that being active is good for our children and that organized sports are a great way for them to stay involved. Some of the most common injuries are:
Knee injuries such as tears in the ACL and meniscus
Shoulder injuries
Elbow injuries
Ankle injuries
Muscle strains
When it comes to sports injury prevention, a little effort can help you avoid time away from a sport or everyday activities you enjoy.

There are three main components to an injury prevention program: strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. Committing to work on all three components can help you avoid injury, and in most cases can make you more successful in a sport or activity.

Strength training is a must for individuals interested in participating in a particular sport or activity. The following are examples of how strength can impact activity. For a high-school pitcher, core (hips and torso) and rotator cuff strength can decrease the risk of shoulder and elbow injuries. For a golfer, studies show that core and shoulder strength impacts driving distance and decreases risk of injury. For a swimmer, rotator cuff strength can help avoid chronic shoulder pain. Each of these activities places different demands on the body. In order to meet these demands, a sport/activity specific strengthening program must be developed.

Flexibility is something that is often overlooked. Decreased flexibility can negatively affect an individual’s mechanics, causing a chain reaction leading to an injury. Our bodies are made to handle the stress of certain motions, and if there is a change in those motions, the body may not be able to handle that stress. One example of flexibility is dynamic flexibility which consists of exercises that use sport-specific movements to prepare the whole body for the demands of a specific activity. Instead of stretching just one muscle, dynamic flexibility exercises incorporate the entire body. These movements are easy to use as part of a warm-up before playing.

Cardiovascular fitness is good for your health and also plays a role in decreasing the risk of injury. When you get tired during activities, your body movements change, which increases your potential for injury. A runner who tires during a run can change his/her running motion ever so slightly and cause knee, foot, shin or back injury. A throwing athlete who tires can alter his/her mechanics and cause elbow, shoulder or back pain. Studies show that most injuries occur late in the game and are viewed as fatigue related injuries. Improving your cardiovascular fitness helps you have a healthier body, while also developing a higher resistance to fatigue-related injury.

To prepare their bodies before and after activity, athletes should keep in mind the following factors:

Fuel properly: Eat a balanced diet and make sure to hydrate. As fall sports progress, temperatures drop, but athletes are still at risk for dehydration and other heat/overexertion-related injuries.

Stay Fit for Your Activity: Work with a trainer or licensed professional to develop a plan that will help you stay fit and in condition to enjoy your activity.

Warm up before activity: It can be a shock to the body to just start a strenuous activity. Warming up helps prepare your body for aerobic activity. A warm-up gradually revs up your cardiovascular system by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. Warming up may also help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury.

Stretch your whole body, not just the main body region used for activity. For example, in addition to stretching out their legs, runners should also stretch their backs, arms, and upper body.

Cool down after activity: Cooling down after your workout allows for a gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure. Cooling down may be most important for competitive endurance athletes, such as marathoners, because it helps regulate blood flow. Use ice and heat as directed by your athletic trainer or doctor.

An injury doesn’t always end an athlete’s season. What advice do you give to injured athletes Every athlete’s injury is different. It is important that the athlete be open and honest with their athletic trainers and doctors when something hurts or doesn’t feel right. As mentioned earlier, prevention is the key to keeping athletes on the field. Sometimes a little rest or some extra stretches or minor therapy may be all the athlete needs.

In non-trauma related injuries, for example elbow soreness or knee soreness due to overuse, the earlier we can diagnose and treat the soreness and its cause the quicker we can get the athlete back to full strength.

Playing through pain is never a good idea. When you are injured, don’t give up on your season. It will be up to you doctor and athletic trainers to determine when you can return to play. Staying positive and following through on the rehabilitation and therapy is critical to improving your chances, but don’t overdo it. Trying to get back to play too quickly can be detrimental to the healing process. Even though you may feel like you can push the limits, don’t as this can lead to additional injury.

To learn more or to contact UPMC Susquehanna, you can visit their website here, or call (570) 724-2325.

Credits:
Idea/Concept: UPMC Susquehanna
Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: UPMC Susquehanna
Anchor: Sara Vogt
Correspondent: Rhonda Pearson

Produced by Vogt Media
Funded by UPMC Susquehanna

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