There's nothing worse than feeling physical
pain from a summer day of sports. Nothing
ruins a great round of golf like golfer's
elbow, or spoils a jog like runner's knee.
New tips recently published by the New York-Presbyterian
Hospital (NYP) offer help for those who want
to enjoy the season with athletics. The following
tips were compiled by Dr. William Levine,
chief of sports medicine at NYP/Columbia University
Medical Center, and Dr. Andre Panagos, assistant
professor of rehabilitation at NYP/Weill Cornell
Start slow. Your best bet is to prevent
injuries before they happen. Don't expect
to be in the same playing condition that
you ended up in last fall, even if you have
been maintaining your fitness level. New
activities require muscles and joints to
respond in a different way. This may result
in minor soreness while your body adjusts.
If you push yourself too hard, too soon,
that minor soreness could turn into something
Don't forget to warm up. Although you
may feel warm in good weather, you still
have to give your muscles a chance to go
through the motions and get blood pumping
to all the necessary areas. Gentle stretching
before finishing your activity will help
those hardworking muscles retain and improve
Treat injuries. For tennis elbow, runner's
knee and similar injuries, try R.I.C.E.--
rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Rest
means that the injured area is not put through
any undue strain. When icing a body part,
apply the ice in a covering such as a cotton
handkerchief so that it is not in direct
contact with the skin. Ice the affected
area several times a day, for about 20 minutes
at a time. Compression is the application
of pressure to the injured area to stop
bleeding (if any occurs) or to reduce swelling.
Elevation helps in these respects as well.
Compression and elevation are to be used
in the case of acute injuries, such as a
Take frequent breaks. Even tennis pros
rest between sets. Taking a rest doesn't
mean that you have to completely stop all
activity (although it may be advisable sometimes).
Just rest the body parts that are working
hard and are susceptible to injury.
Pay attention to your body. Don't ignore
the little aches and pains in the joints
and muscles. They are early signals that
could help you prevent more serious injuries.