Prevent and Prosper PDF Print E-mail
Written by Linda Palacios   
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 10:11

Prevent and Prosper
You keep your figure, stay fit and have fun, but playing sports can take a toll on your body if you're not careful. One local physical therapist shares her expertise so you don't take one for the team.

Whether you're an all-out athlete or a "weekend warrior," taking some preventative measures can keep you on the court, track or field and out of the ER, Christ Hospital physical therapist Martha Stricker says, and she shares some of those measures with Cincy Chic.


Knee(d) a hand?


As a woman's mechanics are different from a man's, you need to keep your body in mind when putting it to the test. With a wider pelvis and different muscle structure, women are prone to jumping and moving with their knees turned in, which can lead to knee injuries.


More active athletes might look to an acceleration training program to train their bodies to move and land properly. But amateur athletes are still at risk. "Weekend athletes or those who just do sports just for fun, you still need to be aware of how you're moving and to avoid risk or injury," Stricker says.


Heat things Up


The most important step toward staying safe in sports is to warm up your muscles before really engaging them in an activity. This warm up doesn't just have to be a couple minute run before your activity. You also can "warm up" your body to the exercise by doing light exercise throughout the week, which can allow you to be more agile for your desired sport, Stricker says.


Stretch it Out


After warming up, stretching your muscles prevents you from tearing, pulling or straining them. Stricker recommends to avoid bouncing with a stretch and to hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. 030810HEALTH2.jpgA good stretch will cause mild discomfort but not pain. This preventative measure will help you avoid pulled hamstrings, Achilles tendon tears and quad strains.


Balancing Act


Stretching and working out muscles can lead you to a strong build, but it's important to make sure you are not leaving key muscles out of the mix. When you work out one group of muscles but not another, this can create a muscle imbalance, Stricker says. And this imbalance can lead to serious injuries like a rotator cuff strain, tear or impingement. To prevent a muscle imbalance, work with a physical trainer or physical therapist to determine specific exercises you can do to develop a balanced build.


Cut to the Core


The most important muscle groups to work out make up your core. A strong core prevents injuries in other areas of the body like the legs and arms, but with a weak core, injuries are almost inevitable.


Practicing Pilates is a great way to strengthen your core muscles, but Stricker also recommends working with a Swiss ball. Whether you are sitting or lying on the Swiss ball, a variety of exercises will help you reach your desired strength.


Crunches and sit-ups also help work the core, but you must perform these exercises properly to reap the benefits. For a proper position, keep your back in "neutral" by keeping it straight and not arched, Stricker says. As you move your body, maintain the neutral position for your back.


Christ Hospital has several area Physical and Occupational Therapy Centers and offer occasional screenings. Visit for more information.




Photographer: Linda Palacios

Model: Martha Stricker

Location: Christ Hospital

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

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