You’ve been injured … now what?
Many people, at some point in their lives, will be injured during recreation or exercise. What do you do when that happens and how can you prevent future injuries?
Susan Ring, director of rehabilitation service at SportsMed at Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, said when someone gets injured, they are usually participating in one activity too often.
“Mix things up,” Ring suggested.
About 70 percent of injuries that come into the YVMC rehabilitation service center are related to sports injury. A majority of the time it’s because people’s bodies are overused, Ring said.
The most common types of injuries Ring and her staff see are related to the knee or shoulder.
Ring recommends that patients take the time to strengthen their core muscles.
“If you don’t have a stable base to work from, you are setting yourself up for injury,” Ring said. “It’s also really important to stretch well.”
Rich Sadvar, owner of Craig Physical Therapy, agreed and said flexibility is a major part of injury prevention.
“There is no fountain of youth,” Sadvar said. “In my opinion, flexibility is the key to prevention. There are many different kinds of programs (for flexibility) available right now, but you can’t beat a regular stretching regimen.”
Melissa Baumgartner, physical therapist and owner of The Center for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in Steamboat Springs, said that being physically fit before starting an activity greatly reduces the chance of injury.
“Before you go out and participate, you need to be sure that you are in good overall shape,” Baumgartner said.
Sadvar also thinks people are preparing their bodies properly before overexerting themselves.
“Most of the time what happens is people aren’t staying in shape year-round,” Sadvar said. “They are in a period of inactivity, and they turn around and go to two- or three-a-day practices, or they go into something really hard.”
Ring said knowing your body and paying attention to the signals it gives you are good indicators of knowing your limits and preventing injuries.
“You need to pay attention to your body,” Ring said. “Ice and stretch and if the pain lasts longer than a few days, go see a doctor.”
Back in action
If you do injure yourself, there are some simple steps that Sadvar, Ring and Baumgartner recommend. One of the first steps is to make a trip to the doctor to determine what is wrong. The second step is finding a physical therapist who you are comfortable with, and one who can help you achieve your goals of getting rehabilitated. One final step is to stick with your rehab program, though recovery time may be slow.
“Recovery time is all over the board,” Ring said. “It is all on the individual, so there’s no set pattern for any injury.
“Every injury is treated on an individual basis. And it’s important to match the physical therapist to the patient, because it is a one-on-one relationship.”
Ring said patients should look for a well-equipped gym and a well-rounded staff to choose from, so the patient is more likely to find success in their recovery efforts.
By heeding the signs and signals, maintaining flexibility and taking steps to prevent and care for injuries, a trip back onto the playing field is not too far away.
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