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Johns Hopkins Health - Get Back in the Game—and Stay There

Winter 2013
Issue No. 19

Get Back in the Game—and Stay There

Date: January 17, 2013

Therapy programs help people of all activity levels perform at their peak


get back in the game

With spring fast approaching, you might be eager to get back out on the golf course or the running trail. Make sure you’re ready to resume your outdoor fitness regimen safely and effectively.

“The majority of sports injuries are due to training errors, improper technique or a biomechanical imbalance,” says Dorianne Feldman, M.D., MSPT, a physiatrist with Johns Hopkins Medicine and Rehabilitation. “Lack of conditioning is another factor, especially for people who don’t play a sport year-round.”

Perfecting the right form and technique for your pastime can reduce the risk of injury. Or if you’ve been sidelined, combining skill refinement with rehabilitation can help prevent future problems.

That’s the idea behind a series of Johns Hopkins programs designed to help people of all activity levels perform at their best while learning to prevent or recover from injuries.

“We place highly trained clinicians in direct oversight of each area based on their skills and personal experience,” says Ken Johnson, P.T., clinical manager of the Johns Hopkins Rehabilitation Therapy Services Clinic. “For example, we have therapists who are runners working with our running rehab program and therapists with a professional background in ballet working in our dance rehab service.”

Using high-tech equipment that captures detailed body movements in real time, therapists analyze each patient’s form and technique. For instance, they measure the mechanics of a golfer’s swing at three points: address, top of backswing and impact.

“What we’re doing is identifying the particular joints or muscles that may be causing pain or performance issues,” says Terrence G. McGee, P.T., a fellowship-trained clinical specialist at the Rehabilitation Therapy Services Clinic. “Through manual therapy techniques and corrective exercises, we improve the biomechanics at particular joints that help them build muscle memory and improve the consistency of their performance.”

If a runner tends to be a hard heel striker, for example, therapists can help prevent or reduce heel pain through coaching, injury prevention tips, strengthening or rehabilitation, based on each person’s needs.

“When you think about it, the body’s like a machine,” Johnson says. “We study the machine for mechanical failures and weak links, and then we apply our therapy knowledge and experience to improve the function of that machine.”

Training Tips
Put these simple steps into your routine to keep pulls and strains at bay:

  • Check with your doctor. Even if you’ve worked out in the past but stopped for a significant amount of time, it’s a great idea to make sure you’re still good to go.
  • Start smart. Don’t overestimate your abilities. Whatever you think you can do, take it down a notch in the beginning.
  • Warm up 15 minutes before starting an activity. This routine prepares the body by elevating the core temperature, loosening the muscles and raising the heart rate.
  • Stretch, but only after a short cardiovascular activity, when muscles have had a chance to warm up.
  • Drink plenty of water—before, during and after exercise—to prevent dehydration and fatigue.
  • Increase the pace and intensity of your workout over time. Consider a 10 percent boost per week.
  • Rest. It’s critical to help your body recover from the strain of exertion.
  • Call in the pros. If you are having aches and pains that won’t go away, schedule time with a physiatrist or a sports medicine physician, who can refer you to a physical therapist as needed.

Want to improve your golf game?

Terrence G. McGee, P.T., Johns Hopkins clinical specialist and certified golf fitness and medical professional, explains how you can improve your body motion to better your swing and prevent injuries in the video: Master Your Golf Swing by Improving Your Movement Mechanics.

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