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Ohio Today

Exercise caution

By Laiteisha Dobbins

You could find countless ways to get into a fitness regimen. Head for the golf course. Shoot some hoops with your buddies. Or lace up those inline skates and tour the neighborhood. But be careful out there.

Tendonitis, muscle sprains, shin splints and torn ligaments are among common injuries that can ruin a perfectly good game or powerhouse workout. Sports injuries themselves are pretty common, but knowing how to treat and even prevent them is not.

"Stretching is key to preventing sports injuries," says Sue Hammond, MSPE '86, former athletic trainer to the 1990 and 1999 Women's World Cup Soccer teams.

More online references:

Sports Injuries
Common Sports Injuries

Injury Prevention

Stretching Exercises

Injury Warning Signs

When to See a Doctor

Strengthening Exercises
Returning to Sports

Strengthening Exercises

"A lot of athletes hate to do it," Hammond says. "Getting them to do it is like pulling teeth." But stretching warms up your body's muscles, which in turn protects it from injuries.

"Good core strength lessens injuries," adds Hammond, who has treated sports injuries for some 17 years and is the head athletic trainer at Reedley (Calif.) College. So, hit the weight room and strengthen those core muscles, the ones that run from your chest to your knees. Also work on your ankles and knees, which suffer most from injury.

If you do sustain an injury, try using an anti-inflammatory or acetaminophen, Hammond says. In addition, a four-letter acronym, RICE, can help you remember how to treat a sports injury, says Kari Williams Terrell, BSAT '98, athletic trainer for East Clinton and Lynchburg-Clay high schools.

To reduce swelling and pain:

  • Rest the injured area to prevent further injury.
  • Ice it for about 15 minutes every three hours to constrict injured bloodvessels and limit bleeding.
  • Compress it to limit swelling, making sure not to cut off the blood supply.
  • Elevate it so gravity can reduce swelling and blood flow to the injured area.

    "If you RICE an injury for three days and the pain persists for more than a week, see a doctor," Williams Terrell says, especially if you have severe pain, infection, tenderness, numbness or tingling.

    Laiteisha Dobbins, MSJ, '03 is a graduate student writer for Ohio Today.

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