I’m standing in the locker room of the packed YU Max Stern gym in absolute disbelief that we’re about to play for the yeshiva league basketball championship. The combined enrollment of juniors and seniors at JEC was only 40 boys. No one expected us to get here, including myself, but here we are getting ready to face off against the mighty Frisch Cougars. We were David playing against Goliath. We were that team from the “Hoosiers” movie and our coach gave us that same speech about ignoring all the noise and just going out and playing fundamental basketball.
Led by our captain Marc Nadritch, we execute our game plan as best we can. We play our solid 2-3 zone defense, push the ball on the fast break, and play with poise in the frontcourt offense. We ultimately fall short against the towering Mitch Weinberg and the shifty David Ruchelsman and crew, but it’s an experience that lives with me to this day.
I may or may not retell this story to my kids about once a week (some weeks more often) but it’s definitely in the back of my head every time I get on the basketball court, even 28 years later. I still like to think of myself as that 18-year-old shooting guard on the varsity team, but my muscles and joints don’t seem to agree. Staying active as we age is important for many reasons, but it often comes at a price. The aches and pains interfere with performance and, let’s be honest, getting out of the bed the next morning is not so much fun either.
Listening to friends at kiddush or at Shabbos meals, I know that I’m not alone in trying to keep those memories alive. I’m sure many readers have similar fond memories of their athletic glory years and want to continue playing sports, but dealing with the various sports related symptoms can really take the fun out of being on the court again. Here are some of the common injuries that many adult athletes often face and that can be treated with the help of a physical therapist.
Sprained ankles — When a ligament gets pulled too far, often the ATF ligament, and it doesn’t bounce back so quickly to its original strength. This can lead to joint instability and pain/weakness.
Iliotibial band syndrome — Occurs most often in runners who cover long distances. The condition occurs when your IT band, a strong ligament that runs down your outer thigh, rubs on your thigh bone repeatedly. The syndrome usually causes pain in the knee, hip or both places.
Pulled “groin” tendon — Typically happens to people who play intense sports with a lot of lateral movement, such as soccer, tennis and basketball. It happens when muscles in the inner thigh are stretched too far.
Tennis/golf elbow — Occurs when repeated arm movements cause strain in your forearm ligaments/tendons. It can happen to people who play sports other than tennis and golf, but it’s most common among those players who require a lot of gripping of the racket/club.
Shoulder injuries — Includes muscle strains, dislocations, rotator cuff tears, and ligament sprains. They commonly happen to people playing sports like golf, tennis and baseball where you perform intensive, repetitive motion.
Hamstring and hip flexor strains — Happen when muscles at the back or front of your hip get injured. The injury can happen to people playing practically any sport. These tendon strains can make it difficult to walk or climb stairs.
Achilles tendonitis — Most commonly occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs. It’s also common in middle-aged people who play sports such as tennis or basketball.
Patella femoral syndrome — One of the most common knee injuries. The patella, or kneecap, should travel in the groove at the end of the femur or thigh bone. Sometimes, a fall onto the knee or overuse can cause swelling, leading to a muscle imbalance of the two major muscles that aid in proper tracking of the kneecap in the groove.
Lumbo sacral strain — Low back pain can be caused by an injury to the muscles that run alongside the spine, by inflammation of a disc in between the vertebrae, or by irritation of the facet joints on the sides of the vertebrae.
The good news, though, is that a physical therapist can help address the underlying musculoskeletal issues conservatively and help you remain physically active way into your adult years. Please reach out if you’re like me and aren’t ready to make the transition just yet to dominos and backgammon.
Noah Wasserman, DPT, CSCS, is the owner of Wasserman Orthopedic and Sports Rehab in Englewood, New Jersey. (201)371-3271. wassermanorthorehab.com.