Dr. Haemi Choi, MD
Board Certified Family Medicine
It is rare to find a physician that truly understands what a patient is going through. As a long time runner and cyclist, Dr. Choi has had her fair share of overuse injuries. The ability to relate to her patients concerns and empathize with their strict training programs has proved to be invaluable in her relationships with patients.
As patients have told us before, Dr. Choi spends quality time with each one of her patients to make sure they are “listening to their bodies” and getting all of their questions answered. See the injury prevention advice and management suggestions that Dr. Choi provides in our full interview.
Q: You are board certified in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine. Can you tell us why you decided to practice both? How do the two (family med. and sports med) overlap on a daily basis?
I knew that I wanted to go into family medicine during my training as I enjoyed taking care of patients of all ages that I could follow long term. I valued the relationships formed with patients and the ability to be able to provide comprehensive care. I decided to pursue more training in sports medicine as I realized that musculoskeletal problems are one of the most common complaints seen in the primary care setting. I spent time in my training with several primary care sports medicine physicians and really loved not only the process of treating active patients/athletes but also loved sideline coverage of athletic events. Being an active individual myself, I can relate to patients coming in with all questions including starting an exercise program, to taking care of a sore knee, educating about nutrition while starting a marathon program, etc. The two overlap all the time as not only do I deal with musculoskeletal problems, I also treat medical conditions related to active individuals/athletes including concussion management, the female athlete triad, asthma management to name a few. My family medicine background helps me to look at the whole picture when an individual comes for evaluation.
Q: With many athletes specializing in only one sport, what advice do you give to parents about injury prevention and injury management?
There has been a lot of research on this topic and studies show that intense training to one sport can lead to higher rates of injury, burnout, and increased psychological stress. When parents come in with their child, I always check to see if he/she is enjoying what he/she is doing and not feeling burnt out from all their practices/games/events. I recommend that young athletes wait until late adolescence for intense single sport specialization and recommend that they have free time to enjoy other hobbies/sports early on.
Q: How does Achieve Orthopedic Rehab help your patients be successful in recovery?
Acheive does a great job at looking at my patients from head to toe and identifying any other contributing factors that may be leading to their MSK issue. The therapists are very skilled in manual therapy including ART/graston techniques and do a great job in rehabbing our patients back to their sport. They spend a lot of individualized time with each patient from the initial evaluation to every PT session making sure they address all their needs, and I know the patients love the hands on manual therapy they receive each session which I think is hard to find these days. All my patients I see in the office after their follow up visits from PT only have high praises for the therapists!
Q: You seem to have a passion for treating the endurance sport athlete, how did this come about?
I have been a runner/cyclist for as long as I can remember and have run in several half and full marathons over the past few years. Having to deal with my own overuse issues from running along with taking care of my fellow friends/runners in my running groups along with athletes in my college athletic training room has helped me to understand the mentality and concerns that endurance athletes have.
I have also volunteered at multiple half/full marathons in the area at the medical tents and direct a local half marathon which helps me not only in providing medical advice in preparing for a race, but also helps me to address common overuse issues and treatment needed to combat those issues.
I truthfully get excited and love talking to patients about their sports (especially running) and having similar experiences in activities/sports really does allow me to be on the same wavelength as the athlete.
Q: What general injury prevention advice would you give to runners?
First off, I tell myself and runners all the time to listen to your body! Runners tend to push off treatment of "nagging" pain until they come in severe pain that limits their ability to run (I am guilty of this as well). If something is bothering you (i.e. hip soreness from your iliotibial band, achilles pain from running all those hills); cut back on your activity level, have a period of relative rest, trial of ice and a nsaids as needed for pain. If you are still having issues, see a physician for further evaluation.
I remind my patients that it is important to get a warm up in with dynamic stretching before workouts. Dynamic stretching (i.e. walking with high knees, swinging your arms with a brisk walk) helps to get your body warmed up sooner and allows for a more efficient run. I also recommend stretching after activity as needed mainly targeting areas you may feel "tight" in (i.e. calves, hip flexors, iliotibial band).
Also, make sure you are hydrating and eating appropriately for your workouts (especially if you are training for the Chicago marathon currently). A lot of times, runners forget to drink during their runs as they are so focused on the work out, or just don't like carrying water while trying to get a long run in. I recommend that you drink to thirst to stay hydrated as under and over hydration can lead to more serious issues such as muscle cramping, hyponatremia, heat related illnesses, etc.
Visit www.loyolamedicine.org or 888-LUHS-888 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Choi today!