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Tips for preventing exercise injuries continued...

Parents would be wise to monitor their children’s sports, according to both experts. “There are very specific pitch counts in Little League, and parents and children should be aware of those and stick within the parameters that are outlined,” Doperak says.

Adults and children should stop exercising or playing a sport when pain strikes, experts say. Continuing to exercise can damage more muscle and connective tissue and slow recovery. In contrast, resting the injured part aids healing.

Often, children and teens won’t complain about pain because they don’t want to sit on the bench, according to Hagen. But if a parent notices warning signs in a young athlete, such as pain, limping, rubbing the knee, or reluctance to do other activities after playing a sport, check in with the child’s doctor, Hagen says.

Learn proper techniques for your sport and exercise type. Faulty technique, whether in the form of an amateur’s golf swing or a high school player’s baseball throw, can lead to elbow pain, Doperak says. “If someone is doing a lot of throwing and their form is not what it should be, they can overload the inside of the elbow.”

It pays to know the proper techniques for any sport that one plays. For instance, tennis players who let their wrists bend during a backhand have a higher risk of tennis elbow. The same is true if they play with a racket that’s too short or too tightly strung, if they hit the ball off center on the racket, or if they hit heavy, wet balls.

Conditioning matters. Golfer’s elbow can crop up when golfers play a vigorous game after long, fallow season, Hagen says. “A lot of us are in areas where we don’t play golf year-round. [You] have a stagnant winter, and you go out and play 18 or 36 holes of golf--putting that kind of stress and strain on your elbow--and you haven’t done it all year long.”

Typically, “people don’t do the activity for a long period of time, they don’t have the endurance build-up, they don’t have the strength build-up, they don’t have the flexibility, or they’ve created muscle imbalances, and now, they go out and do the activity with full vigor and then they get tissue breakdown,” he says.

Rather than jump headlong into a seasonal sport, such as golf, “Do a little preseason conditioning program that’s specific to the activity that you’re going to do,” says Hagen, who has worked with professional athletes. While physical therapists or personal trainers may be able to help, people can also buy self-help, exercise program that target the muscles specific to their sport, for example, golf conditioning programs.

And right before engaging in exercise or sports, “Doing appropriate stretching and strengthening in preparation for an activity -- and appropriate warm-up -- is always important,” Doperak says.

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