We all know regular exercise is important to maintain good physical and mental health, but, as anyone who has experienced sports injuries will know, there can be a downside to physical activity. Dr Francis Lam, an orthopaedics specialist at the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital, says one of the most common myths is that ageing is the sole reason for sports injuries.
“While these types of injuries are associated with age, affecting more middle-aged and elderly people than their younger counterparts, clinical experience shows that most sports-related injuries arise because we push ourselves too far, overestimate our abilities, or employ improper techniques while exercising,” he says.
“Sports injuries can affect people of all ages and fitness levels. In fact, those who regularly exercise are at a higher risk of injury. I find myself constantly advising patients to exercise in moderation, not to push themselves beyond capacity, and to warm up before and after.”
Having a professional trainer instruct you on proper technique is one way to avoid injury and make your workouts as safe and effective as possible, he says. He also cautions people against assuming that switching sports between seasons will allow you to avoid injuries. “Different sports require the use of different muscles and varying levels of physical coordination. If you do decide to engage in multiple sports, it’s important to train yourself for each one individually to prevent sports related injuries.”
Case by Case
Dr Lam shares two recent patient stories that show how sports injuries can manifest and how they can be treated.
Case Study #1
“A 45-year-old woman came to me recently complaining of elbow pain – she was a regular tennis player but had taken a hiatus for a few weeks. After returning to the sport, she decided to switch her racket to a larger one but began experiencing pain in her elbow after a few sessions. She was worried that the pain was brought on by her age. I discovered that she had previously suffered from ‘tennis elbow’, an injury involving the extensor muscles of the forearm, caused by improper tennis technique. After switching her racket, her tennis elbow returned. Fortunately, her condition was not serious – a few weeks of rest combined with physiotherapy including shockwave therapy was enough to treat the condition.”
Case Study #2
“A 19-year-old patient recently came to me complaining of intense shoulder pain after attempting pull-ups. Through an MRI, we discovered that he had suffered an injury to the cartilage lining of the shoulder joint (known in medical terms as the glenoid labrum), ultimately causing pain and limiting his range of motion. Through minimally invasive keyhole surgery we were able to repair and stabilise the torn cartilage and restore mobility and stability to the shoulder joint.”
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This article first appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.