Four Ways to Stay in the Game and Prevent Sports Injuries

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When it comes to hard work, Quad City athletes are standouts. To maintain their high-performance fitness, score big, and finish a successful season, every athlete must be committed, talented, and have a team to back them up.

ORA Sports Medicine Physician, Dr. Waqas Hussain, is the team physician for United Township High School. His career as a Sports Medicine orthopedic specialist has not only included treating high school and collegiate athletes, but also professional players both locally and for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. “I like to say, ‘I’m the biggest fan of making sure there are no injuries!’”

Dr. Hussain says there are four strategies to help athletes remain strong and prevent injury from sidelining their careers.

1. Prevention and hydration are the best medicine

Dr. Hussain says he sees a lot of muscle and tendon issues. Injury prevention requires multiple strategies such as hydration, flexibility, proper training techniques for each sport, and cross-training in the off-season. “High-performing athletes work on strength and conditioning year ‘round.”

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Dr. Waqas Hussain, ORA Orthopedics

Another issue that can cause problems and is easily addressed is dehydration. “Athletes won’t perform at their peak if they are dehydrated. Drink a lot of fluid with the right balance of electrolytes the day or two before the game. Once its game day, it’s hard to make up a fluid deficit.”

2. Stretch, stretch, stretch!

Dr. Hussain says he often treats muscle and tendon injuries that involve cramping due to a lack of conditioning and muscle elasticity.  “We tell our athletes to stay supple and pliable. Focus on regimented stretching, as well as warming up and cooling down.

Dr. Hussain also emphasizes that “stretching is not only for pre-workouts. The improvements come when you do it after the workout when the muscles are warm, still active and working. Stretching keeps you flexible and prevents tears because tight muscles can be strained.”

3. Follow prevention protocols

Dr. Hussain says team physicians and athletic trainers have experience in prevention protocols for every sport, so be sure to ask what else an athlete can do to stay strong. “For example, women can be at risk for ACL injuries. Listen to your athletic trainers. Work with your teams and train to help prevent ACL tears, or practice balance exercises to help avoid injury. Physical therapists will often provide gait and running analysis for tips and tricks for better performance and to prevent injury.”

4. Cross-train to avoid overuse injuries

Dr. Hussain says that both in research studies and throughout his own experience, athletes who specialize in one sport are at a higher risk. “Basically the athlete who is repeatedly overusing the same muscle groups again and again can be more prone to injury. Boll Edit

“Specializing in one sport can also create an imbalance in opposing muscle groups that become weaker over time and more susceptible to tears and strains. Muscles need a break, so doing bicep curls every day doesn’t give your biceps ample time to recover, and then your extending muscles get weaker.

“If you run, also bike and swim. Pick more than one sport. I had football players join the swim team in the winter, and most of them were physically stronger. Socially, it was also good for them to get out of their comfort zones, meet new friends, and take a break from the routine.”

When in doubt, get it checked out

Dr. Hussain says the unpredictability of sports is what makes games so exciting for fans and athletes alike. “We have great athletes in our community, and ORA is dedicated to ensuring world-class care for them.

“Addressing an injury right away means we can start treatment and possibly avoid future pain or arthritis decades later.  If there is an injury, do not ignore it.

“If in a few days your pain and swelling persists, then definitely get it checked out. We can scan, evaluate, and shorten recovery with prompt treatment and get you back in the game.”

Hussain, Injury Prevention
Dr.  Hussain is the official team physician for United Township High School.