Sports medicine specialists are experts in body mechanics. They know how each joint, ligament, and tendon work together, so you can bend, flex, and twist your body. These orthopedic specialists focus on the treatment and prevention of joint-and-muscular conditions and sports-related injuries.

They have some advice to share about treatment and prevention.

1. Sometimes, you can do just as much at home as we can in the office.

Minor sprains and strains require RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. In real life, that means you:

Rest – Take time off from activity
Ice – Apply ice to the injured area – cycling ice on and off every 20 minutes
Apply Compression – Apply an elastic bandage or another supportive device to support the area
Elevate – Raise and rest the injured area above your heart to reduce swelling caused by increased blood flow.

Using the RICE method is especially crucial during the first 24 hours after you experience an injury.

You should start to feel relief within 48 to 72 hours. If you’re in pain for two weeks or longer, call Bone & Joint and make an appointment with a sports medicine specialist.

2. Your sports medicine specialist needs to know what really happened.

Tests can only tell us so much. We need to hear your story.

While it may be embarrassing to tell your provider you wrenched your knee when you stepped on your shoelace instead of saving a child or something equally heroic, the actual details matter. They can help speed your recovery.

Knowing the amount of weight, the angle, and the conditions that caused the injury will help your sports-medicine professional gauge the severity of the injury and create a customized program to get you back to health.

Don’t be embarrassed! Tell your doctor the truth. Save the heroic story for your friends and family.

3. Share your expectations about recovery.

You’ve probably heard it said that if you don’t have a goal, you’ll probably reach it. That saying holds for sports medicine treatment, too.

You’ll work harder if you have a goal in mind.

Tell your doctor what you want to do after you’re fully recovered – whether it pertains to your current hobbies or activities or something you’d like to do in the future.

Once the sports medicine specialist knows what you enjoy doing, they can focus on strengthening the muscles and conditioning the joints that you need to take part in that activity.

4. If you need surgery, we’ll refer you to an orthopedic surgeon.

Whether or not you need surgery depends on the severity of your condition.

Sports medicine specialists focus on non-surgical treatment of sports injuries, arthritis, or chronic joint and muscle pain due to illness or injuries. If you heard a snap or pop accompanied by severe and sudden pain, it may indicate a tendon or ligament tear. These types of injuries do not heal on their own. Your sports medicine specialist may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for treatment.

5. You can avoid coming to see us if you make a few changes in your lifestyle.

Making just a few changes in your lifestyle can help you avoid a painful condition. A sports medicine specialist can give you tips, techniques, and exercises to help you perform at your best. Here are a few tips you can use right away.

Make sure your physical condition is healthy enough to play sports or enjoy an active hobby.

If you experience uncharacteristic pain while being physically active, or pain that occurs after activity, it may indicate something is wrong. Make an appointment with your orthopedic specialist to figure out what is causing your pain.

Making sure you are healthy enough for activity is one reason the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) requires sports physicals. While Bone & Joint is not hosting a sports physical clinic this year because of COVID-19, we have some appointments reserved to ensure that your child is healthy enough to play. Call 800-445-6442 and ask about WIAA sports physical appointments.

Warm-up, stretch, and cool down.

No matter what type of activity you enjoy, your body will perform better if you warm-up and stretch before you begin. After exercise, don’t forget to cool down by slowing activity to bring your heart rate down. Add a few stretches to the end of your workout and you’ll release tension and reduce the amount of lactic acid in your muscles. Including this trifecta in your routine can help you prevent injuries.

Don’t over train.

When it comes to training, more isn’t always better. Using the same muscles repeatedly can cause an overuse injury and take you out of commission for weeks, and sometimes months. Even though it seems counterintuitive, it’s essential to take time off from the activity you’re training to perfect.

Cross-training can enhance performance.

Participating in other sports or activities helps build overall muscle strength to help you excel in your overall fitness and your ability to perform at a high-level.

Dress for success.

In Norway, they say, “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes.” It’s true in Wisconsin, too. If you enjoy being active outside, you’ll experience the extremes of hot and humid weather in the summer and below zero temperatures and wind chills in the winter.

Keeping an eye on the weather can add enjoyment to your workout or your hobby. When you’re working out in hot weather, be sure to use sunscreen. When working out in the winter, bundle up in layers. Whether the forecast predicts hot or cold temperatures, be sure you dress to perform at your best.

Practice self-care.

Feed your body, keep it hydrated, and rest well. Nutrition, hydration, and rest are the cornerstones of high-level performance.

Eat a balanced diet, including whole foods. Feeding your body whole foods filled with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients give it the tools it needs to build muscle and perform well. Try to eat food in its natural form. If you eat commercially prepared foods, choose foods with five or fewer ingredients.

Stay hydrated. Dehydration decreases performance. When you are adequately hydrated, your blood volume is healthy, allowing your heart to pump oxygen-rich blood to your muscles efficiently. Hydration also allows your body to release the heat generated by exercise. When you’re not adequately hydrated your heart works harder, you become physically and mentally tired, risk overheating, and, of course, you risk injury.

The third pillar in self-care is rest. Without rest, your performance suffers, and you increase your risk of injury and illness. Rest gives your body and your muscles time to repair and regenerate, resulting in more energy, better sleep, and a stronger immune system.

Your sports medicine specialists can work with you to improve your performance through strength training, nutritional education, and customized exercise programs.