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Sports medicine: Not just for athletes

Bookmark and Share While you may not be preparing to run a race or play in the NFL, Christopher Carey, MD, says everyday activities like yard work or cleaning are "sports" for which you'll have to stretch, strengthen and prepare.

"Simple, every day tasks use a wide variety of muscles, joints and tendons," says Dr. Carey. "That's why it's important to treat chores such as shoveling snow, cleaning the house, or gardening with the same caution as if you were playing a sport."

The term "sports medicine" often confuses people. "The name implies a sports team, runners or football players," says John Gray, MD. "We treat athletes who compete at many different levels, and our physicians have served as team physicians on both collegiate and professional levels. However, many of our patients are grandparents with pain from picking up toddlers, or dads trying to keep up with their kids at sports practice."

Of course, prevention is the best cure. "Strong muscles and flexibility can reduce the risk of injury and speed your recovery if you do get hurt," says Mark Schwartz, MD. "Also, pain, stiffness or soreness that lasts more than a few days, might be a sign of something more serious, and you should see a sports medicine specialist."

Virtua's Musculoskeletal Institute is a comprehensive orthopaedic, sports medicine, and spine program, offering expertise in preventing and treating muscle, bone and joint injuries as well as providing rehabilitation services.

Virtua is nationally recognized for its Joint Commission certified joint replacement program that provides advanced minimally invasive surgery options. Virtua's Spine Program was the first on the East Coast to achieve this prestigious certification by the Joint Commission.

Drs. Carey, Gray, and Schwartz serve as Medical Directors of Virtua's Sports Medicine Program.

Some situations in which you should exercise caution

The Weekend Warrior
A pick-up basketball game? No problem; you're in shape. In fact, you have your team varsity shirt to prove it … from 1978.

"After 30 years of little or no activity, evaluate your physical condition before jumping into a training program. A sports medicine specialist can help you assess if you're ready to start training for your personal goals."
Mark Schwartz, MD

The Workaholic
Breaks? How can I take a break when I am glued to my desk all day? Dr. Carey says breaks are important in any job.

"Walk away from your work from time to time throughout the day. Incorporate some light stretching or a walk to a co-worker's office to prevent stiffness and injuries associated with repetitive movement. Some jobs by their very nature can cause an injury. Plumbers can put extra stress on the knees and machine shop operators can damage their shoulders. For these kinds of jobs, stretching is critical."
Christopher Carey, MD

The Fashionista
Of course, your bag is big. How else could you carry your phone, PDA, calendar, iPod, wallet, shopping list, a paperback, makeup, hairbrush and coupons?

"The average woman's purse can weigh up to five pounds. All that weight on one shoulder puts your body out of balance, and that's asking for trouble. Your big bag doesn't need to be full. A heavy handbag can put strain on your shoulder, back and neck. Do your body a favor and clean out your purse so that you carry only what is necessary."
John Gray, MD

The Multi-Tasker
Why make two trips from the car to the house with your bags when you can load each arm before you waddle indoors? Oh, wait, might as well answer the cell phone too …

"Most accidents occur when people are trying to do too much in too little time. Take it easy. Do one thing at a time. If you must multi-task, try not to do things that require physical mobility, stretching or climbing."
Mark Schwartz, MD

Meet the Physicians

Christopher T. Carey, MD, is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who earned his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He completed a fellowship in sports medicine at Harvard Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where he served as a team physician to the New England Patriots, Boston Bruins and sports teams at Harvard University.

John M. Gray, MD, is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who earned his medical degree, and completed an internship in general surgery at State University of New York (SUNY) Health Science Center. There, he also completed residencies in orthopaedic surgery, general orthopaedics, hand surgery, pediatric orthopaedics, spine surgery, total joint surgery and sports medicine. He completed fellowship training in sports medicine at Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic in Tennessee, and was a team physician at the University of Tennessee.

Mark G. Schwartz, MD, is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who earned his medical degree from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York where he also completed a residency in orthopaedic surgery. He completed a fellowship in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Georgia. Dr. Schwartz is a member of state and local medical societies including the Philadelphia Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine and the Arthroscopy Association of North America.