Many people don’t think about bone and muscle health on a daily basis, or realize they have a need for treatment. But when the seasons change, our choice of physical activity often changes. And if we’re not prepared, injuries can arise.
Who should see an orthopedist?
Dr. Shah: People should be tested for bone health in general, but especially if they have a family member with osteoporosis or osteomalacia. These conditions can be passed on, but are treatable. Those with targeted issues such as shoulder pain or arthritis pain should also take special care.
What suggestions would you make for keeping exercise safe?
Dr. Shah: We see a lot of people repeating the same workout over and over, which can actually be harmful and cause further injury. It’s not good to swim, bicycle, or lift weights all year long. You should change your exercise routine every three months or so. And remember not to overdo it.
How can people prevent injury in the fall and winter months?
Dr. Shah: In the fall and winter, people are starting to clean their gutters, tend their lawns, rake leaves, and shovel snow—all activities that rely on your low back, your quads, and your shoulders. So it’s important to spend a lot more time on your core exercises, stretching out your quads, and strengthening your back to get those muscles activated again. And if you’re an avid skier, remember that you have to get your body trained again before picking up a set of skis.
With the holidays around the corner, how can people avoid accidents while celebrating?
Dr. Shah: We see a tremendous increase in fractures when families bring elderly loved ones home for the holidays, taking them out of their controlled environments. Make the home environment safe—remove loose rugs from the bathroom, fix unstable handles or balusters on the railings. We also see wrist fractures and ankle sprains from people falling on snow and ice, so wear appropriate footwear for the weather. Lifting and moving heavy objects, like boxes of holiday decorations, also takes a toll. Always bend at your knees and hips, rather than your spine, and lift with your legs.
What are the best practices for healing an injury?
Dr. Shah: The general musculoskeletal injury takes about six to eight weeks to heal. The most important thing I can say is work with a physical therapist to heal injuries. There’s a common misconception that if you go to the gym on a regular basis, you won’t benefit from physical therapy. But many people aren’t exercising properly at the gym, which only makes them hurt themselves more. And stretching some parts of the body, like the hip, knee, or shoulder, requires help. Physical therapists play a more important role in rehabilitation than most people realize.
Posted November 2018