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Staying Healthy is Easy if You Know How: Dr. Stallone shares simple precautions to prevent and even heal most sports and exercise injuries

Sep 02, 2013 12:16PM ● By Paul Stallone, NMD

Most people assume that any type of exercise is good, but it’s very possible to do lasting harm while trying to keep active. Depending on many factors like age, weight and health condition, some activities can inflict serious injury. Simple precautions can prevent or even heal most injuries sustained during sports or exercise.

Water is essential before, during and after a workout; the average human is about 80 percent water, and the average water content of muscle is 75 percent. Muscles that are dehydrated will lose their elasticity and become tight, and tight muscles are prone to spasms and injuries. Highly aerobic activities make the body produce more heat and sweat.

While exercising, certain cellular functions are carried out. Fat and sugar are burned, protein is converted and metabolic byproducts are made. The body needs to remove these toxic leftovers through the kidneys with the help of H2O. These are just a few of the many reasons why drinking water is extremely important and should be a priority during exercise. Keep in mind that thirst isn’t always the first sign of dehydration. Other common signs are fatigue, headache, anger and confusion.

A great tip for preventing injury is to stretch before any physical activity, even walking. One reason stretching is important is because it prepares the body for more demanding muscle movement by increasing oxygen intake. During moderate activities, muscles require more oxygen and blood for energy; this is why breathing increases. Stretching floods the body with oxygen and allows for better performance. Gasping for air probably signals a lack of preparation, and it’s the body's way of saying the muscles need more fuel.

Food today is just not as nutrient-rich as it was 50 years ago. Everyone can benefit from a customized supplement plan to support their needs. For example, elderly long-distance runners and weightlifters and those with previous injuries all have different requirements to support their level of activity. A few of the supplements that most can benefit from are listed below; a knowledgeable physician should be consulted for maximum potential.

Hyaluronic Acid is in the cushion and lubricant between joints and other tissue. By adding this to our daily supplements, we can increase the space between our joints to help with pain and flexibility. Some experts say this “fountain of youth” can help in anti-aging and the way our body responds to injuries.

Omega-3 can help reduce the inflammation throughout the body and especially within joints. This important essential fatty acid can also help prevent inflammation in blood vessels, which carry nutrients and oxygen to every single cell in our body. During exercise, the vessels have to work harder to meet the needs of our muscles.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are components of our normal cartilage, which acts as a cushion between the bones in our joints. These supplements can reduce pain, rebuild cartilage and prevent sensitive nerve endings from touching. Many studies show that these two can be used as an effective alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, which can have dangerous side effects from long-term use.

Magnesium is the fourth-most abundant mineral found in the body. About 50 percent of our body's magnesium level is found in the bones. Besides being needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions, magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. It also helps regulate heart rhythm, blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and has been shown to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Magnesium can help with muscle cramping and can reduce symptoms of restless leg syndrome.

All the prevention in the world isn't a guarantee against injury. Accidents can and do happen, but our body has the capability of repairing itself with the right tools. Many naturopathic therapies can help heal sport- or exercise-related injuries even if they're 10 years old. Temporary Band-Aids like cortisone injections only mask pain for a few months. Therapies like Prolozone and prolotherapy actually address the source of pain by tightening ligaments and tendons. With a few treatments, the joint is stabilized back to its pre-injury condition permanently. Many people may even be able to rebound naturally with guidance from an experienced naturopathic physician.

Paul Stallone, NMD, founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center, located at 8144 E. Cactus Rd., Ste. 820, in Scottsdale. He combines natural/alternative/conventional treatments to best fit and benefit each individual patient’s needs. For more information, call 480-214-3922 or visit

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