In my physical therapy practice, I get to treat a lot of different kinds of athletes for a lot of different kinds injuries: I treat martial arts people, tennis players, golfers, a professional sprinter, and several professional volleyball players (many of whom I know from working as a physical therapist with the AVP tournament.) And I work with them on everything from shoulder injuries to knee injuries, elbow injuries to foot injuries. Every sport has a variety of common injuries- you may have heard of “tennis elbow”, but what about “jumper’s knee”?
What’s interesting about doing PT with athletes is, not only their awesome physical condition, but the very specific places their bodies break down. Of course, many of their repetitive injuries can’t be helped, but I think there are (cue the heavy music) a couple of lessons to be learned in terms of preventative therapy! At the risk of shooting my own physical therapy practice in the foot, here are just a couple of tips for mitigating the risk of a sports related injury:
1) It’s very important to wear the proper gear. And I’m not talking about digging out your old running sneakers from the back of the closet. There have been lots of recent technological breakthroughs, which can minimize your chances of busting your knee or spraining your foot, if you invest in the right products.
If you’ve had your sneakers for over a year, do yourself a favor and get a new pair designed specifically for your sport. Your injury-free body will thank you.
2) Stretch, stretch, stretch! If you are playing tennis, don’t just stretch your hamstrings; stretch your arms, your core and your back!
If you are going to run, same thing! I think you get where I’m headed with this. I heartily concur with the content, as well as the blunt headline of this article: “Avoid Stupid Ligament Tears- Stretch Properly before you Exercise”. Take a yoga or a pilates class! You will really learn how to engage your core, which will, in turn, enhance your performance in your favorite sport.
3) Getting back into the game after an injury time out? My biggest piece of advice to all coming back from injury rehabilitation is: don’t push it! I’m all for going to the edge, but only if you know where the edge is! It’s best to rebuild your exercise routine gradually and comfortably up to the next level, with professional help if necessary. This may involve- wait for it- trying new things and approaches, like pilates, yoga or Tai Chi.
Can’t wait to hit the golf course after a bout of frozen shoulder? Or the tennis court after you’ve had a herniated disk? Make sure your therapist or doctor says you are fully ready, or you’ll be back where you started- in rehab!
© Copyright 2010
Best Physical Therapist NYC
Karena Wu, PT, MS
ActiveCare Physical Therapy
12 W 37th Street
New York, NY 10018