Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Garrick is the founder and director of the Center for Sports Medicine in San Francisco — the first hospital-based multi-specialty clinic in the United States dealing with athletic injuries. The Center recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and was renamed in Dr. Garrick’s honor.
What innovations have changed the field of sports medicine since you started your career?
We’re much more aggressive with exercise and rehab after injury. Thirty-five years ago, we’d put people in a cast or a brace and leave them for three or four weeks. Now, when people have knee surgery, they’re moving the day of the operation, and that’s the big difference. The other big thing is arthroscopy — big operations through small incisions
What are some of the most common injuries you see in athletes?
The most common problems are overuse injuries, too much too fast. They’re not acute onset injuries, they’re gradual. That’s good because you have some chance of preventing them.
What can people do to speed up recovery?
People who are athletes are compulsive and are bound and determined to work through the pain, and nothing could be further from what’s actually helpful. Listen to your body and do exercise and rehabilitation. If it hurts, then don’t do it as much.
What changes about being an athlete with age?
As you get older, you have to spend more time getting ready to do a sport. You’re gradually getting weaker as you get older, so you need to spend a little time getting up to speed. Do the strength training and build your endurance to do these activities.