Sports Medicine Specialists: Focus on Fitness

Not only medical but lifestyle-oriented

sportsSince the second half of the 20th century, it is no longer acceptable for Americans to grow fat, then die young. While the majority of the population admits they do not get enough exercise, increasingly the term ‘working out’ does not apply to outside chores.

John F. Kennedy used the Canadian Air Force exercises. Under Lyndon B. Johnson, exercise was introduced into the classroom. Researchers examined the statistics on certain ‘American’ diseases, and sounded an alarm. Today, fitness is a way of life for many; for the rest, it’s the holy grail they know they should pursue at some point. Those who deny it and who are given a second chance– post heart-attack or stroke– tend to be fervent converts.

A medical specialty has developed in the wake of this demand. Sports medicine doctors are physicians– many of them orthopedic surgeons– who’ve delved deep into the science of health and well-being. Orthopedic surgeons, who have had extensive training on physiology and musculoskeletal disorders, are prime candidates for this field.

The title, ‘sports medicine specialist’ may be a bit misleading, as their patients include not only athletes but any physically active individual. Thus sports med specialists treat lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and exercise-induced asthma. . . as well as muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons, and joints.

It’s clear that there is a market for this type of service. The U.S. government maintains that three our of four American children do not get enough exercise. (The one-in-four are the athletes who participate in every sport in school.)

Americans are living longer– well into their 80s, on average– and many are no longer content to spend the last decade of their lives in a rocking chair. From a Supreme Court justice who plays tennis at the age of 92 to the 88 runners who are 75 years and older at the New York City marathon, Americans are determined to keep moving.

But there is work to be done. Sports med specialists warn that most Americans need coaching, training, and encouragement to adhere to or begin an exercise regimen. This requires exercise physiology, and treating injuries that may prevent or inhibit patients from being as active as they would like to be.

Some of the specific injuries that a sports medicine doctor can treat include concussion, muscle cramps, knee sprain, tennis elbow, muscle tears, and ankle sprain . . . . In fact, any dysfunction of the body in motion.