Sports Medicine for Active Adults: From Injury Prevention to Expert Treatment
By Thomas Plut, DO, Virtua Sports Medicine Specialist
Sports injuries don’t just happen to elite, competitive athletes. If you’re are an active adult who enjoys recreational exercise, chances are you have probably experienced a musculoskeletal injury at one time or another.
Whether you developed knee pain from jogging or walking, sustained a skiing injury, or overdid it on the pickleball court, these types of sprains, strains, and overuse injuries are common. But active adults can lower their risk of injury by taking a few simple precautions.
To reduce your chances of being sidelined by an injury:
- Know where to start.
When starting a new exercise routine, it can be easy to overestimate your level of physical fitness. Start slowly. Doing too much, too soon, too fast, may make you more likely to sustain an injury. Starting with low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, or cycling at a slower pace can help you ease into a new exercise program.
- Change it up.
Active adults who really enjoy a particular activity can run the risk of becoming “one-dimensional” — a term sometimes used to describe athletes who focus only on one aspect of their physical fitness or training.
Instead of doing the same activity all the time, it’s good to mix it up and cross-train to prevent overuse injuries. For example, if you enjoy running, add some weight training, yoga, cycling, or swimming to use your muscles differently. Not only does this reduce the risk of overuse injuries, it also can prevent boredom.
- Prepare your body.
If you are looking to try a new activity, return to an activity after time away, or increase the intensity of an activity you are already doing, it’s important to prepare your body gradually.
Skiing, which has a lengthy off-season, is a common example of an activity that can lead to injury if your body isn’t properly conditioned. Low-impact cardiovascular exercise on an exercise bike or elliptical machine and strength training can help prepare your legs and core.
Sports medicine care when you need it most
Even if you do your best to stay safe, injuries may still occur. If your injury is severe or doesn’t improve after a few days, it’s important to seek medical care from a board-certified sports medicine physician.At Virtua Sports Medicine, we conduct a complete evaluation of your condition, assess your imaging needs, and develop a treatment plan based on your diagnosis.
Often, treatment involves physical therapy and modifying — but not completely stopping — activity. For many active adults, physical activity is their stress-relief outlet and we don’t want to take that away. So, we might add physical therapy and switch from running on a treadmill to indoor cycling.
Other innovative treatments include:
- Tenex, a minimally invasive in-office procedure that relieves tendon pain by removing damaged scar tissue to promote healing
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, an injection of your own platelets (blood cells that help your blood clot) into the injured area to reduce inflammation and pain while improving function
- Inflammation testing, a finger-stick blood analysis that looks for signs of inflammation in the body
We treat the whole person, incorporating diet modifications to reduce inflammation when necessary, and helping you takes steps to prevent future injury.
If your condition does not improve with nonsurgical care, or if your condition requires immediate surgical intervention, we will refer you to a trusted surgeon.
Our goal is to return you to the activities you enjoy while lowering your risk of future injury.
Get back in the game of life
Virtua Health sports medicine specialists offers a full range of nonsurgical services for everyone from high-performing athletes to active adults to children having fun on the pitch, field, and court.
Updated September 8, 2021