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Fit for Fall: Avoiding Injury and Improving Health

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Fall is here, the weather is cooling down, and kids are back in school. With the extra free time and the break from the heat of summer, it is time to increase the duration and intensity of your outdoor exercising. Before you turn up the dial in the turned-down temps, be sure and take the correct precautions to stay safe and avoid injury. The expert physicians of Premier Orthopaedics’ East Norriton office have some tips.

• Whether it is a doubles match with your best friends, a singles spar with a partner, or just you, a racket, and a wall, tennis is a fun, competitive workout that can give your body all the advantages of interval training, but perhaps with a little more fun. Still, the rapid stops-and-starts and full-body swings can take a tool if you are not careful. “If your tennis game gets intense, you run the risks of sprained ankles, repetitive stress arm and shoulder injuries, and strained muscles,” states orthopaedic surgeon Timothy Amann, D.O. “Before the first serve, you should stretch your muscles thoroughly, wear the appropriate footwear, and inspect the court surface to prevent injuries,” says Dr. Amann.

• The roads and trails really call to runners after a month of hiding out in the air-conditioned gym pounding the treadmill. Running a forest trail while the leaves change is great for your physical health, your mental well-being, and your waistline as the fall and winter holidays loom on the horizon. Regular runs can reduce stress, improve heart health and burn the Halloween candy calories. Still, running has the potential to cause orthopaedic injuries, such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and runner’s knee. “Runner’s knee can be very painful, and it occurs when there is repeated stress on the joint,” according to orthopaedic surgeon Dennis McHugh, D.O. “Stretching is the best prevention, along with good running shoes. You also want to ease into your routine, to give your muscles a chance to strengthen,” states Dr. McHugh. Be extra careful on trails in the lower light conditions of autumn afternoons, as uneven surfaces and hazards are harder to see. “Rolling an ankle on the far side of a loop can make for a painful walk to the car and can aggravate the injury and extend recovery times,” Dr. McHugh adds.

• With the cooler temperatures, biking is not just great exercise, but it is a wonderful way to get around your community—especially when you know you will arrive at your destination un-drenched with summer sweat! Biking is an excellent workout for the heart and lungs that also strengthens your lower extremities. Surprisingly, it is the upper extremities that are most vulnerable to serious injury while cycling. “When someone loses balance on a bike, the natural reaction is to extend your arms, which can lead to wrist or hand sprains or fractures on impact,” explains John Pasquella, D.O. “While no one plans to fall, it’s best to take the right precautions to lower the risk and reduce the damage. Be aware of your surroundings, be visible to others on the road or trail, and wear appropriate gear to protect your hands,” states Dr. Pasquella.

• A hike in the woods can provide an excellent low-impact workout, along with a breath of fresh air. Since hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, it helps reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, builds muscle mass, and increases your bone density. However, proper footwear is essential to prevent injuries. “Lightweight, waterproof hiking boots really are the best choice for this activity. They support the ankles, provide traction, and cushion feet on rough terrain,” says podiatrist Vincent Muscarella, DPM. “But you want to be sure to break them in gradually, to avoid some foot-related problems, such as arch pain and blisters. Good boots can also reduce the incidence of ankle sprains and fractures, and cut down on the chance of a slip-and-fall,” explains Dr. Muscarella.

The changing seasons bring new opportunities to get outside and get moving. If you or someone you know needs orthopaedic care, Premier’s specialists are here to help. To schedule an appointment in Bryn Mawr or East Norriton, please call 610-630-4414 or request an appointment online.

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