It’s that time of year when athletes of all ages look forward to getting back in the game and, unfortunately, often wind up in the emergency room. Dierick Sparks, MD, chief of surgery at Riverview Regional Medical Center, talks about avoiding the most common springtime injuries.

“Muscle strains and joint sprains tend to show up most often this time of year,” Dr. Sparks said. “Strains usually result from the overexertion of muscles that are tight or weak from inactivity. Sprains, caused by twisting or turning a joint in a way it’s not supposed to go, are also very common.”

What’s the best way to avoid injury? Start slowly.

“The biggest mistake people often make is trying to resume last year’s activity level out of the gate, instead of slowly ramping up,” said Dr. Sparks, a board-certified sports physician specializing in orthopedic surgery. “It’s safer to set a timeline and goals, and then slowly increase levels.”

Dr. Sparks also recommends stretching both before and during activities, especially after muscles have been worked a while and are more pliable. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.

Not Just for Athletes

Think this information is only for the athletes in your circle? For gardeners or anyone getting ready for the start of a new season of yardwork, proper preparation is important, as well. “We see lots of people with yardwork-related sprains from working on uneven ground in gardens and flowerbeds, along with strains from overexertion,” commented Dr, Sparks.

Returning to Play

Off your game due to knee problems? Riverview RMC’s Orthopedics Center now offers MAKOplasty® partial knee resurfacing to get you back to your favorite warm weather activity.

“Computer assisted partial knee replacement allows us to place an implant into the knee through smaller incisions,” Dr. Sparks said. “This technology allows more precision than in the past, providing shorter recovery times and enabling patients to increase their activity level more quickly.”

In addition to new surgical technology, Riverview Regional has recently renovated the Orthopedic and Same Day Surgery centers and seventh floor patient rooms, and is in the process of remodeling surgery suites. Two new nurses’ stations allow nurses to respond to patients easier.

“This is certainly an exciting time for orthopedics at Riverview,” said Dr. Sparks. “The commitment of the individuals at the Hospital along with capital expenditures like the MAKO system and new room equipment represent our dedication to providing a good experience for our orthopedic patients. We strive to support those people in the initial stage of trying to get back to who they were and want to help them get a fast start to recovery.”