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Every physically active individual at one time or another has likely suffered an exercise related injury. I’m not talking about a pulled muscle, which generally improves within a few days, but a more acute muscle, bone, joint or tendon injury, or the dreaded back or neck pain. These types of injuries tend to last a bit longer – weeks or even months. They can complicate our active lives significantly and throw a major wrench into our fitness goals.
Exercise related injuries may limit us in what activities we’re able to do without causing additional pain. They can also be discouraging, especially if you’re working on fitness goals or preparing for an event. It can often be confusing to know what’s the best course of treatment AND what exercises we CAN do with our injury. For example, if I’ve got a leg fracture, do I need a hard cast or a boot? If I’ve got a joint problem, is it better to isolate the joint or do exercises to increase its mobility? Is there some safe form of cardio I can do? Will weight training exacerbate my injury? Is ice or heat better? Should I take anti-inflammatories? Should I elevate?
There are several different types of medical specialties that one can choose from when dealing with these types of issues. These can include orthopedists, chiropractors, traumatologists, osteopaths and physiatrists. While any of these types of providers may be helpful in treating your injury, there are a variety of reasons you might want to consider seeing a Sports Medicine Specialist: a physician or physical therapist (or both) with specialized training in sports medicine.
Sports Medicine is definitely NOT just for athletes. But the fact that Sports Medicine specialist have experience treating athletes is definitely a benefit for you if you’re looking to continue your active lifestyle while you heal your injury.
WHAT IS SPORTS MEDICINE?
According to the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, a Sports Medicine Physician is “a physician with specialized training who promotes lifelong fitness and wellness and encourages prevention of illness and injury. This physician helps the patient maximize function and minimize disability and time away from sports, work or school.” Sports Medicine physicians often work on a team of surgeons, physical therapists, and athletic trainers.
According to the SPTS, Sports Physical Therapy is a specialized practice that focuses on prevention, evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement of the physically-active individual.
What are some of the ways that a Sports Medicine Specialist could be a good choice for you when you’re experiencing an exercise related injury?
1) Addressing Posture and Gait Issues
Sports Medicine Specialists have specific training and loads of experience with a variety of bone, joint, tendon and muscle injuries AND the movement patterns that may cause these injuries. A Sports Medicine Specialist may be able to help address posture, gait (gait refers to our walking patterns) or repetitive movement issues that may cause or exacerbate injuries, particularly with recurring injuries.
2) Personalized Exercises for Rehabilitating Your Injury
Sports Medicine Specialists are experts in exercises that will help you to rehabilitate your injury and minimize its duration. The specialist will prescribe personalized exercises for your injury and will work with you to find active ways of rehabilitating your injury as opposed to simply recommending “rest.”
3) Adapting Your Current Fitness Routine During Your Healing Period
Sports Medicine Specialists believe in fitness as an important part of overall wellness and health, and they will work with you to create an exercise plan that you can do safely while you’re rehabilitating your injury. Discuss your fitness goals with the physician or physical therapist, and he or she will help you adapt your current fitness routine to your injury during your healing period.
4) Patient Education
Sports Medicine Specialists realize the importance of the patient understanding the body mechanics behind their own injury. The physician or physical therapist will spend additional time with you educating you on your joints and muscles and the physiology behind the exercises and treatments they prescribe. This patient education will help ensure that you perform your home exercises properly. It also gives you greater awareness of your body to help decrease the likelihood of re-injury down the road.
5) Prescription of Medications and Other Rehabilitative Treatments
In addition to an exercise prescription, the Sports Medicine physician or physical therapist may also prescribe medications such as anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) and steroids. He or she may also recommend a series of specialized treatments performed in their office by an experienced professional. These can include electrical stimulation (with electrodes attached to the skin), massage or manual therapy, hot and cold therapy, ultrasound therapy or iontophoresis (delivery of steroids using electrical current for anti-inflammatory purposes).
A Sports Medicine Specialist may be the ideal medical professionals to see if you are experiencing an exercise-related injury that lasts more than a few days. They are experts in body movement and will work with you to find treatments that will help minimize your healing time while helping you be as active as possible during your rehabilitation period.
Looking for a fitness program that is specially designed to maximize your results while actually helping to prevent injury? Athlean-XX for Women was designed by Jeff Cavaliere, a Sports Physical Therapist who was formerly Physical Therapist to the New York Mets. He’s carefully selected exercises that are tailored to the unique needs of a woman’s body in order to build functional strength in all of the muscle groups. In Athlean-XX for Women, we pay special attention to correct form in order to help prevent injury. While we recommend that you see a specialist if you do experience an injury, we’re happy to help answer your questions about modifying Athlean-XX exercises via our Facebook page. Join us on Team Athlean and benefit from this amazing program designed by a medical expert!
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