Getting in Shape without Injuries
Avoiding Joint Damage
Getting in Shape without Injuries
Mark W. Maffet, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon Specializing in Knee and Shoulder Procedures

The beginning of a new year typically brings all sorts of resolutions – often with “start an exercise program” or “try a new sport” at the top of the list. Just be careful not to have “recover from a sports injury” replace your best intentions.

Common Sports Injuries
Getting back into shape is a worthwhile fitness goal, as long as inadequate stretching, poor training habits, outdated gear or accidents don’t trip you up on the way to good health. According to Mark W. Maffet, M.D., board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee and shoulder procedures and fellowship trained in sports medicine, some of the most common injuries due to sports participation include:

  • Shoulder dislocations – A shoulder may experience a partial or full dislocation when a tear in the tissue or ligaments supporting the joint occurs. A traumatic injury, such as falling on an extended arm, or repetitive shoulder motions seen in throwing or swinging sports can cause the tears.
  • Knee injuries – When knees twist suddenly while bearing weight, the meniscus (cartilage around the knee) can tear. This may happen during sports with quick pivots and stops, like soccer. A meniscus tear may also occur with the tearing of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
  • Achilles tendon injuries – This painful overuse injury happens when the large tendon in the back of the ankle becomes irritated and inflamed It is most often found in middle-age runners.
  • Sprains, strains and muscle pulls – Sprains and strains generally occur due to inattention (a runner tripping over an unseen obstacle) or inadequate stretching (a pitcher exceeding a comfortable range of motion). Small muscle tears can affect nearly any muscle that is overused.
  • Stress fractures – This type of injury is often caused by overtraining, insufficient calcium or a flaw in training style, such as an uneven running stride.

Prevention Is Best
“It’s important to be aware of the increased impact levels that participating in a sport creates on the body,” Dr. Maffet says. “For example, if you enjoy baseball or golf but haven’t played for a while, you may experience rotation injuries or irritation of the shoulder. A runner may suffer from shin splints or runner’s knee, especially when starting a new or more intense running program.”

By paying attention to your body’s cues, you can prevent many sports injuries. Here are some tips:

  • Start by getting a physical before jumping into a new sport, especially if you have not been active for a while.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes and proper protective gear for your sport.
  • Warm up carefully and stretch out before and after your fitness workout.
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Stop exercising or participating in a sport if you experience pain.

When Treatment Is Required
Rest, ice, compression and elevation of the injured area, and/or anti-inflammatory medications, often bring relief to sports enthusiasts who have stretched their limits and are suffering from a mild injury. For pain that doesn’t improve with protection and rest, it’s a good idea to be evaluated by an orthopedic specialist. Physical or occupational therapy, or surgery may be necessary to aid healing and prevent more serious problems.

Dr. Maffet is available for treatment of sports injuries, surgical consultations and second opinions. For an appointment with Dr. Maffet, or another physician with Methodist Orthopaedic Specialists of Texas, call 866-567-4130.