Beaufort Memorial’s Living Well Blog brings health and wellness to Lowcountry living.

A Primer on Preventing Bone and Joint Problems

Posted by Bone & Joint Team on Feb 22, 2017 2:42:40 PM

Training for any type of sport without proper conditioning can cause all kinds of setbacks — and a great deal of pain. It isn’t just athletes who need to worry about sports injuries. The greatest at risk may be out-of-condition weekend warriors because of their sporadic exercise. 

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    Leland C. Stoddard, M.D.

“For sports, you obviously want to be in good physical condition,” says Leland Stoddard, M.D, of Beaufort Memorial Orthopaedic Specialists. “You don’t want to try to do a sport that you’re totally out of shape for or you are at a higher risk of injury.”

So what’s a weekend warrior to do? Get conditioned. Gradually work up to being active for at least 30 minutes each day. Also, practice preventive strategies that can protect your body’s most valuable assets. One of the best strategies, according to Dr. Stoddard, is proper stretching.

“We stress stretching to avoid injuries to the knees and ankles, the heel cord or Achilles tendon, and the hamstrings,” he says. “Most people don't stretch properly or adequately before they start doing a sport, and that may be responsible for a lot of the injuries we see.”

Here are more ways to prevent common sports-related injuries from head to toe.


A concussion is the temporary loss of normal brain function after a blow to the head. While you might think football players are at greater risk, a study from McGill University found that soccer players suffer just as many concussions each year. Sports that involve contact or a risk of falling increase a player’s chances of concussion.

What you can do:

Aside from avoiding noncontact sports, proper gear is your best line of defense. Helmets should be worn during baseball, cycling, football, skateboarding, inline skating and skiing. Headgear is also recommended for martial arts and wrestling, pole vaulting and soccer. If you’ve had one concussion, you’re at greater risk of having another. Take time to recover fully before returning to play.


While sprains, strains and tendinitis can affect the shoulder, more than half of shoulder-pain-driven doctor visits involve the rotator cuff. Shoulder injuries are common in overhead-motion sports, such as golf, baseball and softball, swimming, tennis, volleyball and weightlifting.

What you can do:

Proper form and warming-up before activity are ways to slow the inevitable degeneration you experience in your shoulder and prepare you for activity. Light rowing warms up muscles in the upper back and shoulders, which helps stabilize your shoulder joint. Don’t forget regular strength training to keep your shoulder muscles strong.


Tennis elbow is caused by inflammation in the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. The painful overuse injury, which is common in tennis players, golfers and pitchers, commonly appears between the ages 30 and 50.

What you can do:

Train small, stabilizing muscle groups — like the muscles in the forearm — which aid in lifting and gripping. Wrist curls are a helpful warm-up and muscle-strengthening exercise. If you have pain in the forearm or elbow, see your doctor early to learn helpful ways to effectively manage pain.

Knee injuries are common in runners as well as in sports that require jumping and twisting.


The knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most easily injured. Knee injuries are common in runners as well as in sports that require jumping and twisting, such as basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball and skiing. While catastrophic injuries are not common, sprains and strains are — especially for older adults.

What you can do:

Proper form and strength training are essential to preventing knee problems as you age. There’s more to training than squats and lunges. Strong hip muscles help stabilize your thighbone during activity, which prevents unnecessary stress on your knee.


Shin inflammation, called shin splints, is a common problem that runners and dancers face. Sometimes, what you believe is shin splits is really a stress fracture, or tiny crack in the shinbone. The two injuries cause the same symptoms. If you’re having shin pain, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis.

What you can do:

Shin splints and stress fractures are overuse injuries. A way to prevent both is through measured increases of activity. If your goal is to run a 5K, don’t start by running three miles. Start by walking a mile. Then jog a short comfortable distance. Increase your speed or distance by no more than 10 percent per week.


Nearly half of sports injuries are ankle sprains, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Ankle sprains are common in activities that require running and pivoting, such as basketball, soccer and tennis. The uneven terrain of trail running and hiking is also dangerous activities for ankles.

What you can do:

Proper conditioning matters, and so does what you’re wearing on your feet. Wearing the right shoe for whatever activity you’re doing will help provide stability and ankle support. 

If you’re having bone or joint issues, don’t wait and wonder while the pain worsens. Find specialists and treatment at Beaufort Memorial.

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