Don't let joint and muscle pain take the athlete out of you

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Cooper Bone and Joint Institute keeps athletes of all ages in the game. (WPVI)

Mary Karis is a woman who loves to move. She works out at the gym with her husband, Bernie, and they both love to swim. But running is Mary's true religion.

She's been hitting the pavement for more than 30 years now, and she has run countless full and half-marathons.

"I love being outside, and after a few minutes, the endorphins kick in," says Mary. "I find it heavenly to be outside running."

This passion comes with a price, though. Mary struggles with a minor nagging meniscus tear and the wear and tear of joints that comes with decades of dedication. To keep up with her injuries, Mary is treated by David B. Gealt, DO, Assistant Director, Sports Medicine, Cooper Bone and Joint Institute. She sees him three to four times a year.

Athletes of all ages can count on the Cooper Bone and Joint Institute to keep them in the game. Sports medicine experts, like Dr. Gealt, treat athletes of all ability levels, from professional to recreational.

"My knee is definitely getting better," says Mary. "It's just not 100 percent."

"She's very motivated," says Dr. Gealt of Mary. "She always wants to be active. If she has an injury, it kills her to be sidelined."

Upon Dr. Gealt's recommendation, Mary added weight training and swimming to her routine. This type of cross-training is critical not just for older athletes like Mary, but also for everyone who exercises.

"When you use the same muscles all year round, you're just going to wear them out," says Dr. Gealt. "Even professional athletes have an offseason."

Dr. Gealt and Mary work together to modify their training schedule, easing up on the mileage and adding cross-training and stretching routines.

"Let pain be your guide," Dr. Gealt tells Mary. Dr. Gealt works with Mary because he respects her need to move. Exercise is not just what Mary does, but it's who she is.

"I can't stop," acknowledges Mary. "I love the benefits I get from exercise - the way I sleep, the eating, how I feel mentally. I just absolutely love exercise."

And on that point, Mary and Dr. Gealt agree.

"People who exercise regularly lower their risk for diabetes and heart disease. There are a myriad of benefits," says Dr. Gealt.

"I hope I am running in races when I am in my seventies," says Mary. "I plan to swim until I'm at least eighty or eighty-five."
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