Chicago Health | Homepage
I Don’t Want to Be Like Derrick

I Don’t Want to Be Like Derrick

We want to play like our favorite sports stars, but we don’t want to be injured like them

By Laura Drucker

You don’t have to be a serious athlete to get a serious sports injury. Strains, sprains, tears and general pain can happen to weekend warriors and elite athletes alike. In fact, nearly two million otherwise healthy people enter emergency rooms every year for sports-related injuries, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Whether you’re hitting the gym, court, pavement or yoga mat, here’s what you need to know to protect yourself from sports injuries.

Before your workout

Preventing injuries begins long before you ever break a sweat. And it all starts with wearing the proper shoes, says Lowell Weil, Jr., DPM, team podiatrist for the White Sox and president of Weil Foot and Ankle Institute.

“People make the mistake of picking the wrong type of shoe for the sport they’re participating in,” Weil says. “For instance, people buy cross-trainers, thinking they’ll be able to wear them for everything. Unfortunately, something like a cross-trainer is the master of nothing, and probably isn’t very good in anything.”

Choosing the right shoe puts fewer demands on your body and significantly decreases your risk of injury. To find an appropriate shoe, head to specialty shoe stores that have a knowledgeable staff and a large variety of brands. Be wary of how long you wear a particular pair. Shoes have a lifespan––about 500 miles if you’re using them to walk or run. If you notice that your shoes have less cushioning, or that you’re experiencing pain in your feet, legs, knees, hips or back, it’s probably time for a new pair.

Also crucial is a proper warm-up. “We tell our athletes at every level that they need to be sweating before they engage in their physical activity,” says Michael Terry, MD, head team physician for the Blackhawks and Northwestern Athletics. Going for a quick run before getting on the basketball court or before lifting weights activates your muscles and fills them with blood, reducing your risk of injury.

Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

During your workout

Most of the people who end up in the emergency room with exercise-related pain are there because of overuse––doing too much, or doing too much in the wrong way. It’s important to progress at a safe pace so that you give your muscles time to adapt as you get more advanced, says Brian Cole, MD, team physician for the Bulls.

“Doing exercise improperly, especially with high weights, can lead to injury,” Cole says. “Doing exercises in a progression that your body can tolerate will signal the proper motor patterns without having to use excess weight.”

Watch out for muscle compensation, as well. Everything in your body is connected, meaning that when one muscle or joint isn’t functioning well or properly, other parts of the body will potentially overcompensate, often leading to stress and strain.

To help with this, Cole suggests that athletes at all levels take special care to strengthen not just one specific muscle, but those around it, too. Instead of basic targeted exercises, he recommends complex exercises including those that respond to unpredictable external forces, and plyometrics (jump training), dynamic strengthening and sport-specific functional strengthening.


After your workout

Making good use of your rest periods is crucial for building strength and preventing injuries. Hydration, good nutrition and quality sleep can help your body get ready for your next activity, Terry says.

Light, non-weight-bearing exercises can help work out some of the built-up lactic acid and muscle soreness. To make the most of your recovery periods, do low-impact exercises, such as swimming or exercising on an elliptical trainer; these help strengthen muscles and protect them from injury without exacerbating soreness.

There’s no such thing as good pain. If you notice discomfort at any point during or after your workout, it’s a sign that you need to stop what you’re doing. Progressive pain, or pain that is associated with point swelling or tenderness, means it’s time to visit the doctor. Taking care of injuries before they get too serious is key to leading a healthy and active life. +

Originally published in the Winter/Spring 2015 print edition

Similar Articles

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Less cutting of tendons and ligaments can lead to quicker recovery By Kelly K. James Michael Floodstrand

Relieve the knee pain due to ITB syndrome

Relieve the knee pain due to ITB syndrome

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. Q: I developed pain along

Some activities increase the risk of ACL injury

Some activities increase the risk of ACL injury

Mayo Clinic Q&A DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I'm a 25-year-old woman, and I recently tore my ACL

Knee Needs

Knee Needs

ACL and MCL injuries common in athletes By Kevin Sterne Britta Alpen was playing in a soccer game

Years of good blood sugar control helps diabetic hearts

Years of good blood sugar control helps diabetic hearts

Source: University of Michigan Day in and day out, for years on end, millions of people

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

June 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
May 28, 2017 May 29, 2017 May 30, 2017 May 31, 2017 June 1, 2017 June 2, 2017 June 3, 2017
June 4, 2017 June 5, 2017 June 6, 2017 June 7, 2017 June 8, 2017 June 9, 2017 June 10, 2017
June 11, 2017 June 12, 2017 June 13, 2017 June 14, 2017 June 15, 2017 June 16, 2017 June 17, 2017
June 18, 2017 June 19, 2017 June 20, 2017 June 21, 2017 June 22, 2017 June 23, 2017 June 24, 2017
June 25, 2017 June 26, 2017 June 27, 2017 June 28, 2017 June 29, 2017 June 30, 2017 July 1, 2017

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives