Weekend athletes who push themselves too hard can end up with a traumatic or overuse injury that may sideline them for weeks or months-or even permanently. And injury-associated inactivity may result in weight gain and other adverse health effects.
Your patient is a previously sedentary, overweight 48-year-old woman who has recently started an exercise class at work. She now presents with pain and swelling anteroinferior to the lateral malleolus after she twisted her ankle 1 day earlier while trying to keep up with her younger colleagues. Your diagnosis: an uncomplicated lateral ankle sprain.
"Weekend athletes" who push themselves too hard can end up with a traumatic or overuse injury that may sideline them for weeks or months-or even permanently. And injury-associated inactivity may result in weight gain and other adverse health effects.
The CDC offers recommendations for the prevention of exercise-related musculoskeletal injuries in women.1 Seven tips from these guidelines are presented here.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PREVENTION1. Most healthy women do not need a medical checkup before they begin a moderate-intensity exercise program. However, women older than 50 years and those who have either a chronic disease or risk factors for a chronic disease are advised to consult with their physician to be sure that their exercise program is safe and appropriate.2
2. Advise women to choose an exercise program tailored to their current physical fitness level. Decisions about frequency, duration, and intensity of activity should be based on a woman’s current level of physical fitness, history of physical activity, and history of injury.
3. Women, especially those with lower fitness levels, should begin their programs at a low level of training and progress slowly. Those who are sedentary may need to begin with intervals of activity as short as 5 to 10 minutes of light to intense activity and gradually increase to the desired level.
4. Advise women to be aware of early signs of potential injury, such as increased muscle soreness, bone and joint pain, excessive fatigue, and performance decrements. Depending on the severity of the injury, women who experience any of these warning signs should decrease frequency, duration, or intensity of exercise until symptoms diminish or should discontinue participation.
5. Women who sustain a musculoskeletal injury should allow sufficient recovery and rehabilitation time and take precautions to prevent reinjury.
6. Caution women who smoke that smoking may increase their risk of exercise-related injury and that they should make every effort to quit-not only to reduce their risk of injury but also to improve their overall health.3 Maintaining an appropriate weight may reduce the risk of injury as well.
7. Remind women to be realistic in setting their exercise goals by balancing such health-related fitness benefits as weight loss and increased endurance or strength with the risk of injury.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC recommendations regarding selected conditions affecting women’s health. MMWR. 2000;49(RR-2):13-33.
2. Jones CS, Turner LW. Non-equipment exercise-related injuries among US women 65 and older: emergency department visits from 1994-2001. J Women Aging. 2005;17:71-81.
3. Altarac M, Gardner JW, Popovich RM, et al. Cigarette smoking and exercise-related injuries among young men and women. Am J Prev Med. 2000;18(suppl 3):96-102.