SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – With spring sports underway, when should you see a doctor if you become injured and how can you prevent such injuries?
Dr. Tara Futrell, medical director of primary care sports medicine at Trinity Health Of New England Medical Group, joined Western Mass News to tell us more.
How do you spot an injury and know when to see a doctor?
Futrell: “Yeah, so that’s a good question. There are ankle injuries, there are even fractures, concussions, you know, those injuries that are kind of hard to predict and they kind of just happen and then there’s the more chronic or overload type of injury where you know you have some pain developing gradually over time during your workouts or your sport and it doesn’t seem to be getting better with rest, so things like stress fractures, tendonitis. Those types of injuries are considered more overload or chronic injuries.”
How do you treat sports injuries?
Futrell: “Yeah, so a good rule of thumb, you know, the advice of R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression, elevation. We’ve modified that a little bit. You know, certainly rest and taking a break, stopping your activity if your injured is important, but we want to really think more about protecting the joint, so using a good lace-up ankle brace for an ankle sparin, a compression wrap. We want to protect the joint or the injured area, then you want to think about optimal loading, so can you begin to move the injured area through its range of motion? Can you begin to put some weight on that ankle and do a little bit of walking? And then obviously icing, compression, elevation, those things can also be really helpful for pain and swelling as well.
Are there ways to prevent sports injuries?
Futrell: “Yeah, so we can’t prevent every injury obviouosly, but good ways to be prepared to reduce your risk of injury are going to be things like getting back into activities slowly. So if you’ve had a break, you know, as a lot of us have over the last couple of years, we haven’t been as active as we wanted to be and now, people are getting excited. Things are opening up, the weather is warm, so everybody’s going out there and really getting more active, but this is often a time where I see people get injured by going out and doing a little too much too soon. You want to make sure you’re getting your body ready for higher levels of activity and that can mean either starting more slowly, like if you want to get back into running, finding a good ‘Couch to 5k’ program can be really helpful. You know, start with shorter bouts of exercise or sport and then gradually build up the time to help your body get ready for that. You know, a good dynamic warm-up before your sport or activity is really important. You know, kind of gone are the days of stretch out your ham strings and go for a run. You know, you really want to spend, especially as we get older, a good five to ten minutes doing what we call a dynamic warm-up, so that’s moving our body, getting our muscles warm, getting our joints ready to go through those ranges of motion and handle that increased level of activity. So a good dynamic warm up is very important. You know, you can save the streching and mobility work for after you exercise. That can be helpful to help, to help reduce soreness after you exercise. Another really important point I think is forgotten a lot is the importance of strength training. Even if you’re a runner or a cyclist or an endurance athlete, the benefits we get from doing even a little bit of strength training even just a couple days a week, so you don’t have to be in a gym for hours lifting big heavy weights. There are lots of good programs out there that are body weight only that really help us with our core and our hip strength, which are really our foundation of all our movement. So not forgetting to do some strength trainig a couple days a week can be really beneficial and has been shown to help reduce risk or over use injuries as well. Another important thing to add, since you mentioned the weather, is hydration. So as the temperature gets hotter, think about being more active in the cooler morning hours or evening hours, making sure your dressed appropriately, and good access to water and hydration.”
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