With the arrival of the fall sports season come concerns about injuries, training and conditioning. And with these concerns comes confusion.
“Unfortunately, there are many medical myths circulating that make it difficult to know fact from fiction,” said Dr. Ty Babcock of Physicians Urgent Care, which has clinics in Williamson county. “This can put the health and safety of athletes at risk.”
Here are a few common myths:
Myth: Stretching prevents injuries
Fact: Recent studies found that stretching before exercise or activity may actually hamper muscle performance. This is especially true for “static” stretching (holding a stretch longer than a few seconds), which instead of preparing muscles for a workout, actually weakens them, increasing the risk of injury. On the other hand, a warmup — which is different than stretching — is beneficial. Warming up, like taking a light jog or easy practice swings, primes the muscles before intense activity. You can also safely add high knee exercises, squats and lunges to a warmup.
Myth: Play through pain
Fact: Playing a sport or exercising should not be painful, especially for young people. If acute pain occurs, it’s likely due to poor technique or even worse, a serious injury that should be checked by a physician. Soreness, stiffness, and some discomfort can be expected, but sharp pain is never normal.
Myth: Weight lifting in preadolescents and adolescents causes growth plate injuries
Fact: Studies have found that growth plate injuries reported from weight training were due to improper technique, inadequate adult supervision or inappropriate weight selection. With proper technique and supervision, weight training for young people can be done safely. “It’s important to use a full range of motion, and you should avoid going too heavy early on,” says Dr. Babcock.
Myth: Being strong will prevent injury
Fact: Any athlete, no matter how strong, can get injured at any time. Building muscle strength is definitely important for lifting, jumping and running. But sports injuries will occur, especially if an athlete is over-exerting, fatigued, or dehydrated. Proper training and conditioning, while allowing appropriate time for muscle recovery in between training sessions, are still the best ways to reduce injuries.
Myth: Use heat to treat acute injuries
Fact: Ice is the best treatment for the first 2-3 days. After an injury, there’s a lot of blood flowing to the injured area, causing the swelling. Ice will help reduce that initial swelling as well as naturally numb the area to help diminish pain. Using heat could actually cause the area to swell more.
Myth: An ankle sprain is worse than an ankle fracture
Fact: An ankle fracture typically takes longer to heal than a sprain and may even require surgery, which can prolong the time away from sports. Even high ankle sprains, which take longer to heal than more common low sprains, heal sooner than most ankle fractures.
Physicians Urgent Care currently has three locations — 155 Covey Drive, Suite 100 in Franklin; 700 Old Hickory Blvd, Suite 207 in Brentwood; and a new clinic in Berry Farms, 5021 Hughes Crossing, Suite 165 in Franklin. A fourth location in Nashville West is planned for later in 2017.