The fall season tends to be my favorite time of year, the weather is not so hot, kids are back to school and the changing of the leaves and the foliage in this neck of the woods are absolutely beautiful. But as I reminisce on those great summer BBQs, I’m reminded that it’s around this time of year that we get a surge of sports and other orthopedic related injuries.
As schools and colleges re-start the academic year, so too do all the athletic and sports programs, and with that we see an increase in sports related injuries. Most young athletes that train during the off season or summer are conditioned enough that they avoid injury, but there are many that do not, and face the aches and pains of training. Many young athletes are still growing, and have undergone some physical changes during the summer. An intense return to physical activity may exacerbate the growing pains they are already experiencing.
But it’s not just the kids that are at risk, parents are too. In my clinic, we often see patients around this time of year that have pulled their back out from picking up fallen leaves, or putting away the patio furniture. Some return to the golf course or the tennis courts now that they have more free time with the kids gone. For whatever reason, these types of injuries are all too common around this time of year, but awareness of this means they don’t have to be.
Like I’ve always said in most of my articles, prevention is the key. Most of these injuries are easily preventable, so why deal with them if you can avoid them. At the heart of these sort of injuries, it comes down to how ready our bodies are for activity. It’s the body’s natural response to tighten up and go into spasm like mode when surprised with a sudden increase in load or speed. This sets in motion a chain reaction of inflammation, scar tissue, and potentially tendonitis, or a tear in the muscle. That’s why it’s imperative that the RICE principles are implemented in that initial acute phase to prevent further damage.
Stretching and flexibility training, especially on those big anti-gravity muscles like the back, neck and shoulders will reduce the risk of injuries like muscle spasms, or disc herniations. Always warm up and warm down before exercise and that doesn’t mean just stretching, it also means that you perform the same movements that will be performed during the sport, but at 50% of intensity, that way your body knows what’s coming.
If allowed enough time and rest, the body will heal itself of minor injuries. Be sure to seek out your healthcare professional if you suspect a serious injury or are at risk of injury. At Trinity Rehab, we welcome patients everyday that just want us to perform a free injury screening, or just want to talk about an injury or ways to prevent one.
By Michael Rizkalla, OTR/L, MLDT