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Doctors: Stay active for better joint health, less risk of injury

By: ToLewis, Granite Bay View
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Since people are living longer and generally staying more active into their later years of life, orthopedic doctors say sports-related injuries are all too common. Granite Bay resident David Gotham is an orthopedic surgeon practicing in Rocklin and specializes in everything from pediatrics to sports medicine to trauma. “The bar has been raised for the standard recreational athlete,” Gotham said. “Certainly the competitive level for kids has also been raised. So with that, unfortunately comes overuse injuries.” Gotham said that when it comes to young athletes, females are especially prone to higher incidences of ACL injuries and overuse because of their knee anatomy. According to www.webmd.com, an Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL, injury is a tear in one of the knee ligaments that joins the upper leg bone with the lower leg bone. The ACL keeps the knee stable. While many sports injures are found most commonly in teenagers and young adults, Gotham said adults are certainly not immune. He said the most common injuries for adults are found with the “weekend warrior” type athlete, that is, someone who excersises once in a while, usually only on weekends. This includes young adults in their 30s, 40s, middle aged adults as well as the older population, Gotham said. He said that nowadays, it is not uncommon to have older people performing at a higher level, despite their age, since people are living longer and staying more active. “That’s nice to see, certainly, and it’s good for the joints,” Gotham said. “Unfortunately it comes with a price to pay, though.” Thomas Gallagher, 46, is a baseball coach at Granite Bay High School and says he is generally able to avoid sports injuries by keeping himself in good shape. A torn meniscus and a couple other ligaments that he said he can’t pronounce prompted knee surgery four months ago, but Gallagher says he has otherwise remained injury-free throughout his life. “In the past, I’ve had shoulder surgeries and stuff like that,” he said. “Other than that, and the knee injury, that’s pretty much it.” Gallagher said he has been able to keep injuries at bay by focusing on living a good lifestyle, having a good diet, exercising regularly, lifting weights, practicing martial arts and flexibility. “I try to incorporate as much as I can and stay as active as possible,” he said. “I think that is the key to preventing injuries.” Gotham said remaining active has many positive benefits. He said for active people, joints and muscles are primed for future workouts, making them less susceptible to injury. He said overuse injuries are more common in growing, younger adolescents than in adults. Gotham recommends keeping strong quadriceps and hamstring muscles in the legs around the knee, and rotator cuff and deltoid muscles around the shoulder. “Those muscles contract from a potential injury,” Gotham said. “I think it’s just physical conditioning that keeps those joints less likely to end up with an injury.” With the ski season right around the corner, Gotham said he expects to see an increase of ankle injuries, wrist fractures and ACL injuries. “I would definitely advise that if you are new to a sport, just take it slowly,” he said. “It’s definitely a progressive thing. Listen to your body.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.