The Olympics are under way, and they might inspire some of us to participate in sports. If we do, we’ll want to guard against injury. Dr. Eric Chehab, a sports medicine specialist at North Shore University Health System in Evanston, recommends stretching before exertion. “If you’re starting out absolutely cold and then starting to stretch, I think it’s far less effective than if you’ve had some sort of warm-up.

I think most athletes try and get some sort of sweat worked up and then do their stretch, because I think that’s when they’re most likely to get the most benefit from the stretch. And we do know that stretch does prevent muscle strains, muscle pulls, which plague nearly every athlete,” he said.

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Chehab says amateurs are taking part in recreational sports at older ages than they used to, which is good for them if they avoid injury.

He expects the Olympics to trigger interest in running, weight lifting, swimming and even gymnastics. He says amateur athletes turn up in his office with muscle strains and sprains, ligament damage and bone bruises, injuries that used to go un-treated, resulting in disability later in the patients’ lives.

Chehab was interviewed for this week’s Eye on Illinois program.