How to stay strong and prevent injury during workouts
Valley Health orthopedic surgeon Erik Mitchell, DO, regularly treats
“weekend warriors”—enthusiastic former athletes—who arrive in his office
with sprains, strains, shin splints, and more serious injuries. He knows
firsthand about the importance of routine conditioning to prevent exercise
injuries, since as a former outside linebacker on the University of New
Hampshire’s NCAA Division I football team, he was guided in his workouts
by certified trainers, exercise physiologists and other experts. Below
are answers to questions he is frequently asked.
Q: WHAT STEPS CAN I TAKE TO EXERCISE SAFELY?
A: It sounds counterintuitive, but those who exercise regularly are at a lower
risk for injury. Their bodies are prepared for a workout, and they warm up
properly, have proper footwear, stay hydrated, and know their limits. An
active warm-up is particularly beneficial. It’s important to get your heart
rate and body temperature up with dynamic stretching such as heel kicks,
lunge walks and jogging. Developing a routine that
combines strength training, cardio and stretching
helps you exercise without injury.
Q: WHAT IS THE IDEAL AMOUNT OF EXERCISE
A: Adults should strive to get 150 minutes of moderate
exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every
week, regardless of age. This amount of physical activity
decreases your risk of heart attack, stroke and
diabetes; helps you sleep better; and reduces stress
and anxiety. And new research indicates that moderate
exercise improves your memory as you age.
Strength training is also important. Lifting weights
you can comfortably control for 10 to 15 repetitions is
good for both younger and older adults. Muscle mass
increases your metabolic rate, and developing lean
body mass is good for your overall health.
Q: IF I AM INJURED, WHAT THEN?
A: For minor injuries, take an over-the-counter
anti-inflammatory and use “RICE”: rest, ice, compression
(using an elastic bandage), and elevation. If you
have serious pain and swelling for more than two or
three days, visit your primary care provider (PCP) or
a Valley Health Urgent Care. Most exercise-related
injuries can be handled by a PCP, who will make a
referral to an orthopedist if warranted.
→ Need orthopedic care? Visit valleyhealthlink.
com/ortho for more information.
S U M M E R 2 0 1 9 5
“ An active warm-up is particularly
beneficial. It’s important to get your
heart rate and body temperature up
with dynamic stretching such as heel
kicks, lunge walks and jogging. ” —
ERIK MITCHELL, DO