Safe Summer Shape: DISC Sports & Spine Center Issues Recommendations on Avoiding Injuries When Resuming Exercise

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5 Tips on Preventing Workout Injury From Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Andrew Bulczynski

Dr. Andrew Bulczynski, Orthopedic Surgeon, DISC Sports & Spine Center

If you do plan to base your workout on what you did last, just be cautious of how you do it – try half the speed, half the weight, and don’t go all out, but rather build up gradually with shorter durations, shorter intervals, slower speed.

With spring well underway, throngs of Americans are expected to start or resume workout routines in the annual pursuit of that elusive summer physique. Their self-imposed countdowns will send many to urgent care centers and emergency rooms, as overuse, lack of preparation and age-related issues create a perfect storm for injuries. Exercise equipment related injuries sent nearly 460,000 Americans to the ER in a single year, according to USA Today, and The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports more than 50 percent of runners will experience injury in a given year. Such injury is even more likely when the person is new or returning to exercise after a period of downtime.

Recognizing this, DISC Sports & Spine Center (DISC) has released a list of recommendations to help prevent workout related injuries. These tips were compiled by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Bulczynski, who works with and treats pro athletes and weekend warriors alike. An avid alpine skier with six marathons under his belt, Dr. Bulczynski himself is an athlete who is also able to draw from his own training experience.

The most common injuries he sees in those resuming a workout routine after a significant break are tendonitis or bursitis in the shoulder, knee or elbow and joint sprains, but people also suffer dehydration, heat stroke and other ailments. When they begin to workout, their bodies must adjust and adapt to new levels of activity and intensity, which takes time. Injuries occur when people don’t give their bodies the time and opportunity to make those necessary adjustments. The key to prevention, Dr. Bulczynski insists, is easing back into the activity with adequate preparation and even help from a professional, if needed.

“We all remember how strong, fast, good we were the last time we worked out, and when we try to do that same workout after significant time has passed, we set ourselves up for injury,” says Dr. Bulczynski. “If you do plan to base your workout on what you did last, just be cautious of how you do it – try half the speed, half the weight, and don’t go all out, but rather build up gradually with shorter durations, shorter intervals, slower speed.”

Here are Dr. Bulczynski’s five recommendations for a safe return to exercise:

1.    Ease Back Into Action – Don’t overdo it straight out of the gate. Whether you’re the weekend warrior suddenly planning your first marathon or the couch potato motivated to exercise by seasons or special events, those who don’t exercise year round should start slowly. A lot may have changed since that last workout, so try cutting those first return efforts in half and give your body time to respond. Learn to listen to your body. If it’s been quite a while, consider seeing your doctor for a physical first.

2.    Stretch for Success – Our bodies perform much better when ligaments, joints and tendons are warmed up. To give yourself the most efficient workout while minimizing injury, start with a quick one-to-two-minute warm-up (e.g., jumping jacks) and a short pre-stretch. Follow that with your workout activity of choice and finish with a formal stretch, which will be more effective at the end of the workout than at the beginning.

3.    Get Properly Equipped – The cushion in a pair of running shoes will break down and wear out after 300 to 500 miles, so ditch those old shoes, no matter how comfy, and make sure your new ones fit properly. But don’t stop there: all workout equipment (bike, treadmill, weights, etc.) should actually be tuned up, properly fitted and working well before you jump back into a workout regimen.

4.    Fill Your Workout with Hydration – Our bodies lose electrolytes when we push them to perform physically. Dehydration is failure to maintain an electrolyte balance, which can cause everything from mild muscle cramping and headaches to dizziness, seizures and worse. To make sure you stay properly hydrated, drink an adequate amount of fluid several hours before you exercise, keep hydrated as you work out, and plan to consume 24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight lost afterward. For strenuous activity, use a sports drink that contains electrolytes (sodium and potassium).

5.    Mind the Weather – When it’s hot, you’re more likely to become dehydrated or suffer heat exhaustion. Plan your workouts accordingly. During the hottest days, try exercising early mornings or evenings. Use sunscreen and wear protective sunglasses and clothing. For particularly cold weather workouts, be sure to dress in layers, do a proper warm-up and be careful of ice and other obstacles that could trip you up. And regardless of which extreme you face, know when it’s time to say “when.”

About DISC Sports & Spine Center
DISC Sports & Spine Center (DISC) is California’s premier medical group providing the full scope of sports medicine, spinal care, orthopedics, pain management and conservative treatments. DISC has set a new standard for high-acuity, minimally invasive spine surgery and arthroscopy in an outpatient setting, both safely and on a more cost-effective basis. In partnership with Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA), one of the nation’s leading surgical care companies, DISC operates state-of-the-art outpatient surgery centers in Marina Del Rey and Newport Beach. Both centers are accredited by the AAAHC, have a zero MRSA infection rate and are conveniently located next to major freeways and airports. DISC, which accepts most major insurance plans, is also the official medical services provider for Red Bull and a proud partner of the LA Kings. For more information, contact 866-481-DISC, or visit

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