With the New Year underway, there are thousands of New Yorkers who have made a resolution to commit to a healthier, more active lifestyle this year. While the advantages and merits of these resolutions are numerous, a new (or renewed) commitment to fitness can also spawn some unfortunate injuries.
No matter what your fitness goals are, getting injured surely isn’t one of them. Here’s a look at the most common sports and gym injuries of the upper extremities and some tips on how to prevent them.
Common Fitness Injuries
NYC-based shoulder surgeon, Dr. Mendoza treats patients of all ages who have suffered from some of the most common gym-related and sports injuries, including:
- Rotator Cuff Injuries. There are many forms of activity that can cause a strain, tendonitis or even a tear on the four muscles that keep your shoulder in its socket. Swimming, pull-ups, tennis and skiing are just a few. Rotator cuff injuries are particularly prevalent among the over-40 age group as they typically result from a wearing down of these muscles over time. Regardless of age, certain traumatic injuries can cause rotator cuff tears as well, like a fall directly on the shoulder while skiing.
- Tennis Elbow. The repetitive motion of swinging a tennis racket often leads to lateral epicondylitis, better known as tennis elbow, a condition characterized by inflammation of the muscles and tendons of the forearm where they attach to the humerus (upper arm) bone. The pain manifests itself in the outer elbow and gets worse unless it is treated.
- Golfer’s Elbow. Coming in close behind lower back injuries from golf, golfer’s elbow (also known as medial epicondylitis) is a common injury caused by chronic overuse. The condition presents with pain on the inside of the upper arm near the elbow, as opposed to tennis elbow which affects the outside of the upper arm.
- Biceps Injuries. The long head of the biceps tendon of the shoulder can easily be damaged as a result of injury, overuse or age. Individuals with the highest risk for biceps injuries include weightlifters, skiers, tennis players, rowers, boxers and wrestlers because of the stress continually exerted on the biceps during these activities as well as the possibility of the arm absorbing an unexpected amount of force (such as breaking a fall).
Tips to Prevent Injuries
- Ease into any new exercise routine. Don’t increase the intensity, duration or frequency of exercise all at once. Give your body time to adjust and build strength with a gradual increase in activity over time.
- Allow for extra warm-up time in cold weather. Your body warms up more slowly when the temperatures drop so it is important to give yourself adequate warm up time before beginning a workout. Whether you’re exercising outside or at the gym, a few minutes of brisk walking or jumping jacks is a good idea.
- Don’t overdo it. Listen to your body and never push yourself so much that you are risking your own safety. Working out with a partner who can intervene in situations where a weight is too heavy or you start feeling faint is recommended.
- Take time off between intense workouts or training sessions. Give your body time to recover after training. Mixing up your routine to focus on separate muscle groups is key.
- Wear sport-specific equipment to protect yourself from injury. Always use the necessary equipment and, if applicable, get proper instruction for exercise techniques before starting any new routine.
- Always seek medical attention for an injury that doesn’t improve. If you are employing conservative treatment options like over-the-counter pain relievers, icing and rest and your pain level does not improve after several days to a week, you should seek medical attention.
If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of a rotator cuff injury, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow or a biceps injury, contact Dr. Mendoza’s office today. Dr. Mendoza is dedicated to getting his active patients back in the game with less downtime.