A resident of La Jolla, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Dr Jan Fronek grew up on the slopes of Europe and Southern California, skiing every winter, sometimes competing. In his youth, he also played on the San Diego swimming and soccer teams.
Turning his athleticism into a career, he has looked after athletes and others at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla for the past 30 years in addition to being a team doctor for the San baseball team. Diego Padres, and continues to treat athletes of all ages. .
Sports medicine “has always been a focus of mine,” he said, and sees an increase in sports injuries just after the first of the year, as many take ambitious resolutions to New Years to improve their physical condition and be healthier, and spoke to the La Jolla Light on ways to ensure success in sport and fitness.
Fronek, who attended La Jolla High School and UC San Diego, said gradual progress is important when starting or adding to a fitness routine.
“The maximum increase should be less than 10 percent. For example, if you run two miles a day, then signing up for that five mile hike in the hills won’t be a good idea. This will probably create problems.
He said the same 10 percent rule applies to strength activities when increasing weight or increasing duration.
There are four disciplines of fitness, Fronek said: cardio, strengthening, stretching, and agility. “The idea is not to focus on one exercise and do a cross-training” in several disciplines.
He also said “you want to be consistent. You want to avoid this “weekend warrior” syndrome, where some people compress all the exercises into two days. “
Fronek encouraged 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, adding that the time can be broken down into chunks such as playing with children, walking the dog, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
He said warming cold muscles gently and making sure you have the right shoes and the right equipment for an activity also helps achieve fitness goals and avoid injury.
Fronek said it is frustrating when people give up on their fitness resolutions because the chosen activity was “too much or not appropriate.”
“Fitness is very important in our lives,” he said, “not just in terms of quality of life, but also duration. “
For those escaping to the mountains this winter for sports like skiing and snowboarding, Fronek – who also worked as a ski instructor at Mammoth Mountain – said preparation is key.
“Ideally, you want to spend six to eight weeks in advance” strengthening and conditioning the abdominal muscles, quads and hamstrings, he suggested.
On the mountain, Fronek said having the right gear and staying hydrated is essential.
He also cautioned skiers and snowboarders against “that last run, when… conditions may not be as good and a person tired. Their technique is not as precise and this is when they are at greater risk of injury.
Whenever an injury occurs during exercise, Fronek said “it’s a good idea to be seen by a doctor for proper evaluation and then treatment.”
He added that a doctor’s visit is necessary “if there is a lot of swelling, the pain is quite severe and the person is not sleeping”.
Fronek said skiing is “just a great activity because it takes you outside” and combines exercise principles like cardio and agility.
He also said that the social aspect of the sport is valuable: “Some of the best friendships I have are through skiing. “
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