How to avoid sports injuries


No one wants to be sidelined by a sports injury, and unfortunately, the older you get, the more vulnerable you are to sprains, strains and breaks. Dr. Brent Ridge specializes in issues involving healthy aging and is here with tips on how to avoid sports injuries.

How to avoid sports injuries
  • Listen to your body to know when to stop, slow down or change your exercise pattern.
  • Don’t work through pain. It most often makes the problem worse.
  • To avoid tennis elbow, try a lightweight racket with looser strings.
  • A softer surface like clay or grass causes less stress on the joints, too.
  • Stretch a muscle for at least 30 seconds to warm it up before exercising.
  • You don’t have to be sore to build muscle. Soreness often means that you did too much.
  • If you do get sore, ice is the best treatment. Massage works well, too.
  • Your muscles grow when you rest — so take a day off between exercising muscle groups.
Transcript LISA:  I’m Lisa Birnbach for You love to play sports but your always worried you’re going to get in some kind of injury, and often you do. With me to talk about men and sports related accidents is Dr. Brent Ridge, of Mount Sinai Hospital. Hi.


LISA:  A lot of men want to play sports, feel like they’re athletes, and they’re terrified that they’re going to mess up their backs, their leg, their rotator cuff. What’s a guy to do?

BRENT:  Well I always promote exercise, I’m glad to see people out there doing physical activity. What men need to know is to know when to stop, when to slow down, or when to change their exercise pattern. You really have to listen to your body, and that’s what most men don’t do.

LISA:  Sometimes you need to work through a pain though, and a lot of men seem to want to tough it out.

BRENT:  Yeah, working through pain is a misnomer, that’s almost never the case. Sometimes when you have a little muscular pain, then working through it doing some stretching, and that type of thing is good. If you have a problem like a sore knee, you’ve hurt your knee; you’ve run too far on your knee, working thorough that is not going to help its only going to make it worse.

LISA:  How can tennis players avoid tennis elbow?

BRENT:  Well tennis elbow is really a modern problem. And, its because we’re hitting the tennis ball much harder. And we’re all about speed when we’re playing tennis. And the problem with tennis elbow is that the force transmitted when the ball hits the racket is transmitted to your elbow and causes an inflammation of the tendons around your elbow. And so what you need to do to prevent that, as a reoccurring problem for you is look at your racket, use a lightweight racket as much as possible. Look and see how your racket is strung. If it is very taughtly strung it’s transmitting a lot of force from that ball hit. That’s going to make tennis elbow much worse, and having looser strings on your tennis racket will help. And then really look at the surface on which your playing tennis. Using a softer surface, clay or grass, is going to reduce the amount of tennis elbow that you have.

LISA:  And be better on your knees as well.

BRENT:  Absolutely.

LISA:  Now in terms of pre-workout protocols to make your survival of your workout better, what should we all do, especially if we’re men?

BRENT:  A warm up is really important, making sure your muscles are warm and ready to begin exercise, that’s important. And that’ why stretching can have some benefit, cause it can help to get your muscles warmed up. And when your doing a stretch to warm up your muscles, you need to stretch that muscle and hold that stretch for about thirty seconds so that muscle is getting warmed up and prepared for the exercise to come.

LISA:  If you’re sore after a workout it could mean that you broke through, couldn’t it to the next level, or does it always mean that you’ve done something wrong?

BRENT:  It doesn’t always mean that you’ve done something wrong, you could have just been, exerted a little more then what you should have. But if you look at some of the biggest body builders they’ll tell you they often work out and are not sore after their workouts. So just working out to the point where you’re sore the next day is not necessarily helping you build more muscle or build more strength. If you do have sore muscles, ice, as simple as ice is probably the best pain relief out there. Massage is also very good very indulgent but very good. And then the most important thing is rest. Your muscles are growing and getting stronger as you rest. And that’s why it’s really important if you’re into weight lifting that you take that day off in-between periods of exertion.  Your working different muscle groups on different days so those muscles have time to rest.

LISA:  What if you rest and don’t exercise, is that good for your muscles?

BRENT:  Well then you’re a sedentary, and I don’t recommend that for anybody.

LISA:  Thank you Dr. Ridge. For I’m Lisa Birnbach.
meet theexpert
  • Dr. Brent Ridge

    Dr. Brent Ridge V.P, Healthy Living, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Dr. Brent Ridge specializes in the field of aging and is currently working with Martha Stewart to develop a new facility to manage chronic health conditions and promote healthy aging. He hosts "Ask Dr. Brent" weekly on Martha Stewart Living Radio. more about this expert »

This month: cold prevention