Huffines Institute Director's Blog

Sports Medicine - Exclusive or Inclusive?

Sports Medicine - Exclusive or Inclusive?

A quick test: Raise your hand if you think that "Sports Medicine" only pertains to elite athletes.....

 This is an important question to us because after all, we are an "Institute of Sports Medicine and Human Performance".  Does that mean that we are and should be only concerned about what happens on the practice field and in the arena?  Or is there some way that what we do and study is applicable to everyone? 

Many people narrowly define "Sports Medicine" to mean medical and rehabilitative practices only related to athletes or athletics.  But I think that this narrow definition actually does a disservice to Sports Medicine and the knowledge and experience we can bring to the general health problems that face all of us.

If I define medicine as "practices or treatment to facilitate health", I can then define "sports medicine" as those practices that arise from sport that can facilitate health amongst everyone.  It is said that the reason that auto racing is so heavily sponsor-driven, is that the sponsors like to "race on Sunday and sell on Monday".  I would argue that a similar situation exists in sport; because sport provides the utmost challenge for humans, both physically and mentally, there is no reason that medicine that is perfected in the difficult arena of sport can not and will not be of use to all.  There are many examples already of where principles of sports medicine are applied to general health, i.e.  "playing on Sunday, applies to all on Monday".  For example, many non-athletes have benefited from orthopedic surgeries - knees, shoulders, ankles - that were perfected on athletes.  Many recreational athletes make common use of training techniques like interval training and carbohydrate loading that just a few years ago were the province of only elite athletes.  The list can go on and on. 

Thus, I would propose that "Sports Medicine" is actually "Inclusive" of all individuals, rather than "exclusive" to only athletes.  Science has shown conclusively that exercise is the cheapest and most effective form of medicine in almost every instance.  In fact, there is a whole movement dedicated to "Exercise is Medicine" and the benefit of regular activity on overall human health.  Therefore, the discoveries of Sports Scientists are often just a precursor to application of these same "sport medicine" discoveries to general health and well-being.  So, look around - you may find the next treatment right on the playing field.



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