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Right athletic measures prevent unnecessary pain

Alan Barrett, MSPAS

Spring is here, and you’re ready to dust off your athletic gear and get back outdoors.

Unfortunately, over the winter months lack of conditioning, and perhaps some weight gain, probably has left you in less-than-peak physical form.

Before hitting the court or field this coming season, I recommend you R.A.M.P. U.P. – choose the Right Athletic Measures [to] Prevent Unnecessary Pain.

Of the most common spring injuries, sprains and strains of the ligaments and muscles are the most preventable. Under use of muscles and ligaments during the winter months leaves them less pliable and supple. Frequent and prolonged elongation of a tight muscle or ligament results in acute inflammation and, sometimes, aggravating or debilitating pain.

Before long, your primary care provider is sending you to physical therapy or an orthopedics specialist.

So what can you do to prevent injury before hitting the field or court this spring?

Next, check your sports equipment to make sure it is properly broken in and not over worn. New shoes smell and feel great, but they, just as your muscles and ligaments, must be conditioned before they will perform as advertised. Likewise, if they show signs of extensive wear and tear, perhaps it might be time to upgrade.

The next measure to take in preparation is making sure you are properly hydrated and nourished. Poor nutrition and dehydrated muscles and ligaments are a recipe for disaster. If you feel like there are doughnuts around your waist, it might be because of all the doughnuts you’ve enjoyed over the past several months. Trade those dozen doughnuts and coffee in for some protein and water. You’ll go from dragging across the court to flying across it.

Lastly, and most important, start slowly and take your time getting to midseason form. Tearing an Achilles tendon or pulling a hamstring in April won’t do anything to help you win a championship in June or August.

The novice and the experienced both benefit from a RAMPUP season, the only difference being the experienced might need less time to get to peak form.

Whichever sport or physical activity you take up this coming season, listen to your body. Some discomfort along the way is to be expected. If that discomfort sidelines you along the way, a sprain or strain can quickly lead to a tear or rupture.

If it is not properly managed, you might find yourself back on the couch sooner than expected.

Alan Barrett is a certified physician assistant at HopeHealth Medical Plaza in Florence.



HopeHealth educates its patients on the importance of having a health care home. As a primary care facility, HopeHealth’s medical team works to prevent and detect illness and the early onset of disease, provide routine physical examinations and promote overall healthy lifestyles.

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HopeHealth 360 North Irby St. Florence, SC 29501 (843) 667-9414
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