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Padres Team Doctor Cracks the Code on Fitness Myths

Continuing to exercise despite symptoms of a physical injury is never advisable, according to Scripps Clinic’s Dr. Heinz Hoenecke, the head team doctor for the Padres.

Continuing to exercise despite symptoms of a physical injury is never advisable, according to Scripps Clinic’s Dr. Heinz Hoenecke, the head team doctor for the Padres.

To the casual baseball fan, watching a third base coach relay hand signals to a batter can be a confusing sight.

For recreational athletes, understanding the best path to personal fitness can sometimes seem equally perplexing.

What are some of the more common health and fitness myths circulating today among consumers? According to Heinz Hoenecke of Scripps Clinic , the head team doctor for the Padres, many patients get their signals crossed on three key areas.

1. Extreme workout videos. Recently, there has been an explosion in the number of high-intensity DVD workout programs being marketed to the public. Consumers are often promised quick results by following along with training instructions on TV, with minimal or no equipment needed.

But just because a training regimen is available on video doesn’t mean the entire workout is safe for everyone. Patients can develop joint injuries and other ailments after participating in these programs.

Consumers should first watch what is involved in their workout of interest. Next, they should consult with their physician to objectively identify their own physical strengths and weaknesses. Finally, they should tailor the program to their own needs by modifying the workout as needed.

2. Cortisone shots. Many patients will immediately resist getting a recommended cortisone shot, thinking it is an extreme intervention that will be painful and may lead to infection.

In most cases, a regular-sized needle can be used and the pain is not much different than any other shot. Infections caused by cortisone shots are extremely rare.

Cortisone has four potential roles in patient care. It can be a diagnostic tool to help guide treatment, by sorting out which tissue is causing pain. It can be used to reduce inflammation, which can allow physical therapy to be effective. Cortisone can cure certain conditions, such as shoulder tendonitis. Finally, it can control inflammation in chronically arthritic joints.

3. Playing through pain. Whether an injury occurs suddenly or develops over time, it is never advisable to work through the pain. Continuing the activity will only cause further harm.

Patients should seek medical attention if the injury causes severe swelling, pain or numbness, if the injured area cannot tolerate weight, or if joint instability is apparent. Injuries with less severe symptoms can usually be treated at home with RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation. This can help reduce pain and inflammation, and speed healing.

Scripps has been the official health care provider to the Padres since 1981. To find a Scripps physician, call 1-800-SCRIPPS.

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Steve Carpowich