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New Sports, New Aches

Before You Swing That Racket, Do Your Homework

Men's Health—May 16, 2011

By Stephen Fealy, M.D.

Summer is nearly here. That means new adventures and new fun. But when you decide to tackle a sport you’ve never tried before, take it easy. Sometimes men think that if they’ve spent their lives swinging tennis racquets, for instance, they inherently know how to swing a squash racquet and play the game—even though they barely even know how to keep score.

In my Tuesday orthopedic clinic, I routinely see men complaining about elbow, shoulder, or knee pain. They all tell me how they played varsity collegiate sports and yet never got hurt. The story goes like this: former college varsity athlete has a young family and obvious professional and social time constraints. His friends no longer play baseball but engage instead in fun new activities such as fly-fishing, squash, and mountain biking. The problem is when the new guys jump in with both feet in order to play along. Let’s focus this time on racquet sports.

With many young guys raising their families in urban settings, our access to outdoor venues is limited. It’s hard in the city to find tennis court time, since courts are about as rare as affordable housing. Squash and racquetball are more accessible, because many health clubs and gyms have indoor courts. Though all three are racquet sports, the mechanics are completely different. This is how the guys who do not have time to stretch, and definitely do not have time to learn the new techniques, wind up with injuries.


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