Nishin Tambay, M.D. knows a thing or two about preventing painful injuries. The sports medicine specialist spends his days treating both professional and recreational athletes at Orthopaedic Associates of West Florida. He is the team physician for the Toronto Blue Jays, and has also treated Wimbledon champions and numerous other famous names. However, he says the majority of the core advice he gives to professional athletes can apply to everyone, including busy physicians who double as weekend warriors.
“It doesn’t matter how advanced of an athlete you are, your body has to move in a certain sequence to produce results. You have to use the proper techniques when you exercise, or you are going to get hurt”, says Dr. Tambay.
As a physician, you know that much of staying healthy, starts with prevention. That is the center point of Dr. Tambay’s approach. He focuses on a holistic approach to medicine. Here are his top tips for staying in shape this summer, and preventing injury.
1. Seek out a fitness expert.
Anytime you are trying a new sport, you should make an effort to learn the proper techniques from a professional. “You need to understand the basic movements behind a tennis serve or a baseball bat swing. So many different body parts are coming together to create that movement, and if you aren’t doing it properly, eventually you’re going to tear or sprain something,” says Dr. Tambay.
Follow the same advice that you would give your patients. Keeping muscles adequately hydrated is one of the most important ways to minimize cramps and prevent injury. A good rule of thumb is to drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day, but if you are participating in more than 45 minutes of high-intensity activity you should also consider a low-sugar sports drink with electrolyte replacements.
3. Wear the proper equipment.
Using the properly sized equipment for any sport is important, but you also want to think about wearing the proper shoes. You should not make shoes multi-task. The same pair you wear on the tennis court should not be used for running. You also want to pick shoes that fit your foot, whether you have flat feet or high arches.
4. Warm-up and cool-down.
All athletes need to stretch their muscles to release tension and prevent injury, before and after any kind of activity. Stretching also helps to relieve pain in muscles. A good tip is to use a foam roller after workouts to break up scar tissue and help the muscles recover. The roller can effective for your glues, IT band, as well as all of the muscles in the lower extremities.
5. Increase training gradually.
Besides learning the proper techniques, Dr. Tambay also recommends easing into a fitness routine, and understanding your own limits. “I work with a lot of tennis players who tell me they are playing in three competitive leagues a week. That may be alright for some people, but for others it is a recipe for disaster. You have to be realistic about how much exercise is appropriate for you. If you aren’t sure, talk with your doctor.”
6. Don’t be afraid to take a break.
Physicians have a hard time slowing down, but when it comes to working out, not slowing down can do more harm to your body than good. Taking a break between exercise sessions allows your muscles to recover and hydrate, avoiding major injuries.