Fall can be dangerous for the ill-prepared

By Dr. Ira Shapiro
Plaza Chiropractic Center
Old Bridge

Fall can be a dangerous time of year for the ill-prepared.

According to GateHouse Media’s review of 20 years of hospital data, “More children go to the emergency room for sports-related injuries in September than at any other time of the year.” The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database run by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, also found that football accounted for “more than half of all sports-related visits in September for patients younger than 18.” They also reported that emergency room visits for soccer and volleyball-related injuries tend to peak throughout the month.

In addition to the usual assortment of strains and sprains, overuse injuries are among the most common types of sports injuries. This is especially true for everyone from high school athletes to weekend warriors who rapidly jump from a relative summer of inactivity to an intensive practice or playing schedule without the proper buildup.

As a result, injuries tend to rage from a multitude of sources. For instance, the repetitive swinging or throwing motions found in golf or football can create the small ligament tears associated with tennis elbow. Swimming, tennis, basketball and volleyball also place a great strain on the shoulder due to all the overhead movements. Plus, nearly half of all sports injuries occur to the knee, especially when the contact is heavy and coupled with all the twists, turns and contortions found in football or soccer.

Consequently, pain should never be ignored. It is a signal that something is wrong. In fact, even minor injuries, where swelling and pain generally subside after 48–72 hours, can cause nagging problems that persist for years, gain in severity with each new trauma or even grow increasingly difficult to heal without the proper treatment.

In addition, never stretch cold muscles. Many people consider stretching and warming up as one and the same. The fact is they should be approached as two distinct facets of any workout. It is always best to stretch warm muscles to avoid injury. Again, this means starting with some form of basic aerobic exercise to increase the body’s temperature and then gradually stretching relaxed muscles to increase range of motion. Also, never overextend or reach beyond your comfort level. The effort may seem tedious and monotonous at first, but the long-term results have been shown to enhance muscle control, while even alleviating cramps, fending off injuries, calming the mind and bringing a better night’s sleep.

While many tend to focus on cardio, weightlifting is also essential for creating muscle mass, strengthening bones, and enhancing durability. Many experts believe 30 minutes of exercise per day is essential for managing weight, improving cardiovascular health, increasing tone, and offering numerous other mental and physical wellness benefits. Others stress the advantages of work outs that last for 45 minutes to one hour. This entails a 10-minute warm-up, 30-40 minutes of moderate to intensive training, and five to 10 minutes of cool down and stretching.

Furthermore, the balance between work and recovery is also crucial for not only achieving optimal fitness levels, but avoiding injury and generally just feeling good. Take a hot bath. Drink lots of water. Try yoga. All are ideal for helping the body rest, relax and prepare for the next workout.

For more information on creating better, fitter and healthier lives for the entire family, call the Plaza Chiropractic Center at 732-723-0023 or visit www.plazachiro.com.

Dr. Ira A. Shapiro is the director of the Plaza Chiropractic Center, which he founded in Old Bridge in 1984. Recently selected to the American Chiropractic Association Sports Council Hall of Fame and a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic team medical staff, Dr. Shapiro has spent the past 35 years providing safe, gentle and effective chiropractic care to tens of thousands of patients ranging from community members to professional athletes competing at the world’s highest levels.