Every Athlete Should Know This About Their Joints

Every Athlete Should Know This About Their Joints

Would it surprise you to learn that your body contains almost as many joints as there are days in a year? It’s true. You have an amazing constellation of 360 joints that allow you to perform everyday tasks and play all types of sports, from football and tennis to soccer and swimming. 

If you’re an athlete, give your joints the TLC they deserve, and in this post, we talk about what that looks like.

Billy Reilly, MS, PT, and Paul LaRosa, MS, PT, are the caring team behind Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation. They’re invested in helping everyone, athletes included, enjoy pain-free mobility and top-level performance. 

There’s one crucial thing we want our patients to know if athletics are central to their life.

Concentrate on your joint health

When working with athletes, we emphasize the role preventive care plays in maintaining their joint health and warding off injuries. 

As partners in your care, we not only treat joint pain and problems, we’re committed to educating you about joint health and avoiding injury. 

The joints most vulnerable in athletes are affected by these conditions:

This laundry list includes just some of the problems an athlete might suffer, and we could add arthritis to each of them. 

So what can you do if you want to remain active and avoid experiencing what can be debilitating injury-related pain, stiffness, and swelling?

Preventing joint injury for athletes

Whether you’re working with us because you’re healing from a sports injury, recovering from surgery, or just getting preventive care, we give you invaluable tips on protecting and strengthening your precious joints. 

The good news? You’re already doing one of the most important things — staying active.

Work on your flexibility

Increasing your flexibility helps your joints in a couple ways. 

If your muscles aren’t flexible, they tire more easily, requiring opposing muscle groups to work harder than they should. This muscle fatigue can then lead to muscle injuries, rendering them unable to properly protect your joints from injuries. 

Your joints also need a full range of motion in order to get sufficient blood supply, nutrients, and synovial fluid, which reduces friction and allows your joints to move freely and smoothly. 

The key thing you can do to increase and maintain flexibility is stretch, but do so only after you’ve warmed up a bit. If you want to stretch before a workout, warm up first by doing some brisk walking, lunges, and gentle jumping jacks for 10 minutes or so before stretching. You should also stretch at the end of your workout. 

Mix it up

If you tend to favor sports that are hard on your knees or elbows, like tennis or basketball, add some lower-impact workouts like cycling or swimming. 

Don’t forget strength training

We can help you determine the best strength training regimen for you, depending on your level of injury, joint health, and other considerations. Strengthening your muscles protects and supports your joints.

Improve your range of motion

Here again, we can offer guidance specific to your situation on what exercises you can do to maximize your range of motion, which helps your joints move easily and comfortably.

Care for your core

When your abs and back are strong, you lower your fall risk and avoid injuring your joints. Both Pilates and yoga are good options for strengthening your abdominals, back, and hips, but we can provide additional recommendations.

You are what you eat

Nutrition affects your joint health greatly. Eat nutrient-dense foods that are whole rather than highly processed, and pay particular attention to getting enough bone-friendly calcium and omega-3 acid-rich fish, which helps lower inflammation.

As an athlete, you may be used to pushing yourself, but don’t push too much. That old “no pain, no gain” adage is simply untrue. Listen to your body when it comes to pain, because trying to push through it can lead to joint injury. 

We’re located in the Midtown East neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City. Call our office at 607-602-1330 to get treatment for joint problems, and learn how to support your joint health.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Stop Doing This If You Want to Avoid Tendon Injuries

Stop Doing This If You Want to Avoid Tendon Injuries

Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscle to bone all over your body. Tendonitis and other tendon injuries cause pain, swelling, and stiffness, and limit movement. Learn how to prevent and treat injured tendons.

How to Get to the Root of Your Lingering Knee Pain

Knee pain can stem from injury, years of wear-and-tear on your knee joint, or repetitive stress associated with sports or your job. Learn about how we pinpoint the cause of your knee pain and treat it to restore your quality of life.
When to Consider Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain

When to Consider Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain can be agonizing and cause mobility problems that may become chronic. It’s the leading cause of disability worldwide and causes emotional as well as physical distress. Learn how useful physical therapy can be for lower back pain.
4 Painful Conditions That Affect Your Shoulders

4 Painful Conditions That Affect Your Shoulders

If you have shoulder pain and immobility, you want relief as soon as possible. But first, you need to know what’s causing your pain. Here are some of the most common shoulder conditions and how physical therapy can help.