Have you ever had a chronic nagging pain that seems to pop up all too often? If you have, join the thousands of people who experience the same aches and pains you do from sports and conditioning.
What is a sport ache? Sport ache is that often overlooked muscle and joint irritation which all too often can lead to further injury if left unaddressed. Sport ache can manifest itself in a myriad of ways, from runner’s knee, to tennis elbow, to golfer’s shoulder, to the sore feet of the casual walker. If you are experiencing pain, it boils down to two main reasons why. One is because the forces of your sport or activity are too great upon your body. And two, because your tolerance to those sport forces is too low. What’s the solution, then? The solution is either to decrease the stressors upon your body, or increase your tolerance. To achieve this requires the mixing and matching of five different variables in sport which, when added together, can allow for pain-free and enjoyable activity.
The first variable concerns the type and quality of equipment used. This includes using proper racquets, balls, gloves, shoes, clothing, and the like. Second is the environment. It is important to take into consideration surface conditions, weather, where and when we play, and even with whom we play. Third, is velocity. How fast we move and how large an impact is placed upon our muscles and joints is important to consider. Next, is utilization of proper technique. Efficiency of motion can save us enormous amounts of energy so we don’t tire of fatigue too early, which in turn can lead to injury. Nobody likes to sit down soon after they’ve begun, but overdoing it can be dangerous. And last, proper conditioning. The “weekend warrior’s” philosophy of “no pain – no gain” is quickly falling by the wayside. A gradual, methodical increase in stamina by way of aerobic exercise and anaerobic training is the best way to enhance and improve your ability, in whatever sport or activity you choose. A good rule of thumb for aerobic exercise is; if you’re breathing so hard you can’t carry on a conversation, then you’re probably pushing yourself too hard. Take your exercise up to the point where you begin to breathe deeply, and you’ll be at a healthy level for cardiovascular exercise.
Understanding the biomechanics of motion is important. Knowing the capabilities and limitations of your body during activity helps in learning not to “overdo it”. The primary point of stress experienced in any sport is at our joints. Hence, joints exhibit the most pain of sport ache. An incorrect motion or a muscular imbalance allowing for an abnormal motion in a joint can cause pain. Pain such as myositis, bursitis, tendonitis, capsulitis, and eventually arthritis can ensue.
If your sport requires a motion that your joints aren’t designed for, or if your activity requires your joints to absorb an impact while they’re in an unstable position, then in all likelihood, you will experience sportache. What to do? Cut down on the stress being placed upon your joints, and increase the tolerance of your muscles and joints, with the five variables mentioned earlier. (Sports Fitness and Injury, Part II next issue.)
(Dr. Richard Hanson, chiropractor in Jamestown, New York, can be reached at (716)664-0445. Most major insurances are now being accepted.)