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Posted on Sep 16, 2020, 7 p.m.

Article courtesy of: Nicholas DiNubile MD, who is devoted to keeping you healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

“The Human Body is the only machine that breaks down when not used.” ~ Thomas Cureton

I’ve been fortunate over the years to work with many high-level athletes — professional and Olympic caliber. I think I’ve helped many of them from a medical standpoint, but I also learned a great deal from working with them. This is especially true of the successful ones, and the ones with staying power. One important lesson involves a certain wisdom of the human body that athletes and dancers seem to know instinctively. Unfortunately, it’s taken us in the medical community much longer to catch on to this seemingly simple concept — use it or lose it!

I’ve seen it over and over especially dealing with injured athletes and dancers. When an injury sidelines an athlete every effort should be made to keep that individual in tip-top shape while the injury heals. The injured part can be protected and with some creativity, programs can be designed to keep all parts moving and functional without jeopardizing healing. This includes the three pillars of fitness: cardiovascular or aerobic, strength, and flexibility. In fact, this approach promotes healing and helps keep the positive outlook essential for normal healing, recovery and return to action. We have even learned that properly and safely mobilizing or moving the injured body part itself allows for a better, stronger healing response than allowing it to get stiff and weak through immobilization and disuse. I call this treatment mindset change “the movement movement” which is in sharp contrast to what I was taught in my early training (and also personally experienced with a football-related knee injury), which was to immobilize almost every injured body part!

This approach has revolutionized not only how we treat athletes but there is a lesson for all of us, young and old in every field, both injured and non-injured. Everyone risks tremendous health hazards by giving up activity and exercise. Sedentary behavior, all too commonplace in our nation, is extremely dangerous for the human body resulting in gradual breakdown and malfunction. Unfortunately, many of these structural changes occur silently, without warning to us. The good news is that it’s never too late to reverse these changes.

We can all learn a lesson from Doris, my 70+-year-old patient. She is an inspiration in making movement and fitness a priority in her life. Doris says, “if you rest, you rust”. She even rode her bike to the hospital the day she was to have a hip replacement. Her post-op recovery was phenomenal — as rapid as I’ve ever seen.


Take a lesson from Doris and the pros. You were built to move. Take a walk, join a health club. Find ways to activate your life to keep you strong in the game of life.

About the author: 

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, is Vice President of the A4M, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, best selling author, keynote speaker, and one of our esteemed medical editors who is dedicated to keeping you healthy in body, mind and spirit. Dr. DiNubile was appointed Special Advisor to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (1st Bush Administration with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Chairman). He has advised two United States Presidents on matters of health and health policy, and has cared for numerous celebrities and high-level athletes.

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