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Danbury Orthopedics OrthoCareExpress
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A greater understanding of our bodies and our musculoskeletal systems can help us take steps to reduce the occurrence of injury over time. A healthy diet and a consistent exercise regimen can help the body to avoid simple incidences that can cause pain or injury. Effective injury prevention requires a multifaceted, multidisciplinary approach, as there are many contributing factors to maintaining a healthy, strong and fit body.

Top on our list is regular exercise, which is critical to enhancing muscle and joint function, keeps bones strong and decreases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Engaging in a consistent exercise routine should be a top priority for people of all ages.

Orthopedic injuries typically surround a particular bone structure or joint in the body. Specific information regarding preventing injury can be found on the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/menus/safety.cfm The AAOS site offers information on:

  • Back pain
  • Osteoporosis prevention
  • Home and work safety
  • Falls
  • Footwear and injury prevention
  • Sports and exercise
  • Recreation safety
  • Motor vehicle safety
  • Wellness
  • Children at play

Sports-Related Injury Prevention

Many of our patients seek help following a sports related injury. Here are some tips developed by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) to avoid injury and exercise safely*:


Warm Up

Always take time to warm up and stretch before physical activity. Research studies have shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, stationary cycling or running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes. Then slowly and gently stretch, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. Do not stretch cold muscles.

Cool Down

Just like warming up, it is important to cool down. Gentle stretching after physical activity is very important to prepare your body for the next time you exercise. It will make recovery from exercise easier.

Consistent Exercise Program

Avoid the "weekend warrior" syndrome. Compressing your exercise into 2 days sets you up for trouble and does not increase your fitness level. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you are truly pressed for time, you can break it up into 10-minute chunks. Remember that moderate physical activity can include walking the dog, working in the garden, playing with the kids and taking the stairs instead of an elevator. Parking on the far end of a parking lot will increase the distance you have to walk between your car and your destination.

Be Prepared

Take sports lessons. Whether you are a beginner or have been playing a sport for a long time, lessons are a worthwhile investment. Proper form and instruction reduce the chance of developing an "overuse" injury like tendinitis or a stress fracture. Lessons at varying levels of play for many sports are offered by local park districts and athletic clubs. Invest in good equipment. Select the proper shoes for your sport and use them only for that sport. When the treads start to look worn or the shoes are no longer as supportive, it is time to replace them.

Listen to Your Body

As you age, you may find that you are not as flexible as you once were or that you cannot tolerate the same types of activities that you did years ago. While no one is happy about getting older, you will be able to prevent injury by modifying your activity to accommodate your body's needs.

Use the Ten Percent Rule

When changing your activity level, increase it in increments of no more than 10% per week. If you normally walk 2 miles a day and want to increase your fitness level, do not try to suddenly walk 4 miles. Slowly build up to more miles each week until you reach your higher goal. When strength training, use the 10% rule as your guide and increase your weights gradually.


Balanced Fitness

Develop a balanced fitness program that incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility. In addition to providing a total body workout, a balanced program will keep you from getting bored and lessen your chances of injury.

Add activities and new exercises cautiously. Whether you have been sedentary or are in good physical shape, do not try to take on too many activities at one time. It is best to add no more than one or two new activities per workout.

If you have or have had a sports or orthopaedic injury like tendonitis, arthritis, a stress fracture, or low back pain, consult an orthopaedic surgeon who can help design a fitness routine to promote wellness and minimize the chance of injury.

*From the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website on Sports Injury Prevention (Aug 2011)


Running Injuries

Running Right – to Avoid Common Injuries
by Ross Henshaw, MD

As any runner will tell you, this simple sport is one of the most rewarding and convenient exercise activities. It’s a wonderfully efficient way to improve your health, except when it produces chronic, nagging injuries. So what’s the best way to safely enjoy a running program? Start smart, with a progressive training schedule that gradually builds the intensity and duration of your workouts.


What the Pros Say

Typically, a running coach or trainer will recommend increasing distances no more than 10% a week. If you have never been a runner, seek advice from friends, trainers or your local athletic store. There are also great resources on line and in print. But if you have an underlying health condition or are new to exercise, make your first step a consultation with your physician to be sure it’s OK to start running. Orthopedically, running is a safe exercise for most people but there are exceptions, even among athletes. So if you have a history of orthopedic injury or joint pains, particularly those involving the legs or spine, seek the advice of an orthopedic surgeon.

While any form of exercise can cause or aggravate a preexisting injury, endurance sports generate typical injury patterns. Endurance sports by definition involve prolonged repetitive motion. While a soccer player may run 3-7 miles in a game, depending on position, he or she is rarely only running straight ahead at the same speed. But runners go straight ahead at a maintained speed, which means your hip, knee, ankle and arm motions are roughly the same for the duration of the exercise. Hills change the degree of motion and add more jarring forces.

The longer the duration and more hilly the terrain, the more our joints are cycling and the more our tendons and ligaments are pulling and rubbing around our joints. When we start an endurance sport like running and build up too quickly, the abrupt increase in joint motion can lead to ‘overuse’ injuries. 


The Top 5 Complaints

In my practice, the most common running injuries are hip bursitis, kneecap pain, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. Here’s a quick anatomy lesson:


Hip Bursitis

‘Trochanteric Bursitis’ is an overuse injury caused by friction between the illiotibial tendon band and the hip bone. This large tendon travels over the bony prominence on the outside of the hip, goes all the way down to the leg and attaches just below the outer side of the knee. When we run, this band rubs back and forth over the outer hip bone; over time the friction creates inflammation. Our bodies have natural ‘cushions’ called ‘bursa’ that are designed to reduced this friction, but if they have not had time to adapt they can swell and hurt. (A related injury is ITB syndrome.)


Kneecap pain and Patella Tendonitis
Often grouped as ‘anterior knee pain’, this refers to pain in the front of the knee and is common among runners. The quadriceps muscle in the front of the thigh powers our ability to straighten the knee. It works by using the kneecap or ‘patella’ for leverage across the knee. This generates pressure and can cause the kneecap to become sore. It’s especially evident when people walk down stairs or inclines and is precipitated by excessive downhill running. The quadriceps muscle tapers to become a tendon that attaches to the kneecap and then to the shin bone (tibia) via the patella tendon. When strained, the quadriceps and patella tendons can also develop micro tears and become inflamed. Treatment includes rest, anti-inflammatories, strengthening exercises, cross training and progressing back to running while avoiding hills.


Shin Splints
Shin splints, or ‘posteromedial tibial stress syndrome’, can occur on one or both shins, but most commonly on the dominant leg depending on your stride. Pain originates at the lower third of the inner part of the shin just behind the bone. The pain is usually discrete and easily reproduced by pressing on the trigger point. This condition is caused by inflammation where the Soleus muscle in the calf attaches to the tibia. As the muscle helps runners with ‘pushing off’ it pulls on the attachment site, which may become inflamed and swollen. This pain usually hurts only when running, early or later in a run. Some people try to run through the pain, which worsens it so that even walking becomes painful. Treatment for this overuse is rest and cross training. Some people may be predisposed to shin splints because of running style or leg, ankle or foot alignment.


Achilles Tendonitis
The strong Achilles tendon is prone to inflammation when starting a running program, particularly on hilly terrain. Our calf muscle tapers off to become the Achilles tendon that inserts into the heel and powers the push-off of the running stride. Running uphill demands more stretch from the calf, forcing it to work harder. This can lead to micro tears of the small Achilles fibers. Micro tears do not become full tendon ruptures, but cause inflammation and swelling as the body tries to repair and regenerate the area. The usual treatment for this pain is rest, stretching, strengthening, cross-training and as the pain dissipates, a gradual return to running with limited hills.


Plantar Fasciitis
Dreaded heal pain! Its most common early symptom comes not with running, but with the morning’s first step. The plantar fascia is a tight band of tissue that supports the foot arch. It attaches to the heel and traverses across the sole, attaching broadly across the end of the foot. When we run the plantar fascia can become overstressed at the smaller attachment on the heel, especially in individuals with tight calf muscles. Initially, inflammation starts after the run and hurts upon standing after a period of inactivity. When the foot and ankle bend to stand flat, the fascia stretches and hurts. Best treatment is to recognize it early and rest, cross train and take an anti-inflammatory. More severe cases may require calf stretching, night splints that keep the plantar fascia stretched, and heel pads.


Pain is a warning!
While it sounds like a lot can go wrong, most of us can enjoy running without ever suffering from these common maladies. As a sports medicine specialist, my best advice is to recognize symptoms early and not ignore the pain. Early recognition and treatment generally lead to a quicker recovery. I also recommend cross training. Even if you prefer running as your primary aerobic exercise, you’ll benefit by incorporating other forms of conditioning such as biking, elliptical, stair master or swimming. If you pay attention to symptoms and mix it up, you can help avoid painful injuries due to repetitive overuse of the joints … and stay active.

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