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Sports-loving doctor: Listen to your body

Dr. David Altchek said the biggest mistake amateur athletes make is not resting properly.

Palm Beach Daily News—March 12, 2014

Dr. David Altchek tries to practice what he preaches, but the sports medicine specialist and doctor to all-star athletes admits that can be hard to do.

Altchek, who is the medical director for the New York Mets and a consultant for the National Basketball Association, loves to play as well as to perform surgery.

“I love sports,” he said while waiting to speak to a seminar at The Breakers, where Hospital for Special Surgery in New York was holding its annual forum. He is co-chief of Sports Medicine Service at the hospital.

The biggest mistake amateur athletes make, he said, is not taking time to rest after playing hard. And he includes himself in that category.

“I love golf and tennis. And I know what it is to be injured. I don’t always live up to the ideals I espouse, but I try,” he said with a grin.

“When you play, you automatically are increasing your risk of injury. It’s quid pro quo. The higher level of sport, the more violent the sport, the more likely you are to get injured.

“As Woody Allen said, ‘When you get the urge to do sports, lay down on the couch until it passes.’ That’s not a bad idea for some people.”

That’s because, he said, many weekend warriors think that the more they play, the better it will be for that back pain they developed during their club tournament.

You need to rest, he stressed, but that can include “active rest” such as riding an exercise bike or swimming.

“Take a good, active rest day. Listen to your body; it’s common sense.”

That seems counterintuitive to many.

“People think more is better. Particularly Type A people. Professional athletes, however, understand recovery better. They are in much better touch with their bodies.

“Fitness can be a double-edged sword when people overdo it. Don’t go hit balls on Monday after a three-day club tourney. That can lead to a scary downward spiral,” he said. “Recovery means rest.”

Altchek says that “professional athletes are part of what I do. If what I do works on them, then it can work on us. If I can get them back pitching 95 miles an hour, then what I did will work on a weekend warrior.”

This story originally appeared at palmbeachdailynews.com.


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