SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- Spring often means an end to cabin fever and a return to the outdoors. For many, it also marks a return to regular sports and exercise. During these few short early spring weeks, months of sedentary lifestyles and improper training collide with a burst of activity, usually causing the number of hip and knee injuries to skyrocket. That doesn't have to be the case, however, and according to the experts at Phelps Hospital, a little seasonal prevention goes a long way.
"These type of spring injuries fall into two categories – acute and chronic," said Dr. Jason Hochfelder, an orthopedic surgeon at Phelps Hospital. "Acute injuries occur when someone takes a wrong step and sprains a ligament or tendon. Chronic injuries, which are more common and are not the result of a distinct incident, occur in people who aren't in shape and don’t warm up properly, leading to the development of conditions like tendonitis."
According to Hochfelder, a former collegiate baseball player and a hip and knee specialist, most spring injuries are due to a lack of preparation. "People have either not prepared over the winter and dive right in, or they neglect warming up before exercising," he said. "By the summer and fall, people who have been active enjoy greater stamina and tend to be in better shape, so we don't see these types of injuries as much as we do in the spring."
Much the same way baseball players report to spring training prior to the season to get in shape, weeknight athletes should prep themselves as well. "A lot of it boils down to preparation," said Hochfelder. "Proper preparation can prevent 90 percent of injuries. That means everything from making sure you have the right shoes and braces, to getting physically in shape." After being away from sports activities, he recommends people gradually increase their fitness by biking, exercising on an elliptical or swimming. "These are all low-impact workouts that can build muscle strength without impacting the joints too much," he said.
If preseason training just isn't an option, Hochfelder recommends getting to the field with plenty of time to spare. "Show up early, have a good warm up, raise your body temperature, and make sure you’re stretched out," he said. "Don't show up two minutes before a game and expect to sprint."
To learn more about orthopedics at Phelps Hospital, click here.