The Prairie Doc Perspective

The safe celebration of movement

By Richard P. Holm MD

Human beings love to play. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has recently reported that participation in sports, recreation, and exercise (or SRE) has greatly increased in our American culture.

We’re talking sports such as organized grade school, junior high, high school, and college athletics, and also backyard pickup games of volleyball, basketball, football, hockey, tennis, and soccer; recreation such as swimming, sailing, waterskiing, surfing, hunting, touring, hiking, and playground activity; and exercise such as biking, skiing, running, weightlifting, Pilates, Zumba, and Yoga.

We humans naturally seek out sports to try to measure ourselves against our competition; look for recreational activity outside of the routines of daily living to refresh the soul; and search for exercise to enhance physical fitness and prevent the diseases of aging and affluence. All three result not only in enhanced emotional satisfaction and growth, but also in improved strength, fitness, health and wellness.

However, as with all activities of change, there comes a risk, and in sports, recreation, and exercise there is the possibility for injury. The CDC reports that in the US more than 10,000 people receive care in emergency rooms every day associated with injuries sustained doing SRE activities, and often these injuries stop further motion, at least for a while.

My orthopedic doctor friend loves playing a morning basketball pickup game with folks from their 20s to 70s. But over the years he has pulled tendons, torn cartilage and muscles, and twisted ankles doing it. Uncountable friends and patients, mostly men, each fall and early winter, worship walking fields of corn, shelterbelts, and sloughs in the hunt for the beguiling, wily, and obscure South Dakota pheasant. But these folks commonly come in with everything from back pain, groin tendinitis, to “pleasemakesureitisnotmyheart” chest pain. And numerous running club members compete year after year in the Brookings Marathon and other races throughout the country. But always there are runners not well enough prepared, resulting in heat injury, muscle spasms, plantar fasciitis, and more.

To prevent injury, the CDC advises beginning with the right equipment for the specific activity; starting slow and building condition gradually; listening to your body and not overdoing it in the heat of the moment; and allowing for time to stretch, rest, and recover at the end of the event or exercise.

Participation in sports, recreation, and exercise is to celebrate living. May we all regularly savor this celebration and do it safely.

Dr. Rick Holm wrote this Prairie Doc Perspective for “On Call®,” a weekly program where medical professionals discuss health concerns for the general public.  “On Call®” is produced by the Healing Words Foundation in association with the South Dakota State University Journalism Department. “On Call®” airs Thursdays on South Dakota Public Broadcasting-Television at 7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain. Visit us at 

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