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Does your doctor know you're an athlete?

Make sure your physician knows you—and your fitness goals—to avoid misdiagnosis.

Eric Heiden, M.D.

Tribune Media Services

September 22, 2010

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Despite the health profession clamoring for everyone to exercise, primary-care physicians are often responsible for quashing the very fitness efforts they purport to embrace.

Many people report having gone to their personal physicians to seek treatment for pain that occurs while doing some sort of exercise and receiving the answer, "Well, stop doing it." Misdiagnoses of exercise-related conditions are also common and can have serious consequences. In addition, you need to be able to rely upon your primary-care physician for guidance in assessing your personal risk factors in relation to your activity level, treating overuse injuries, choosing among surgical or therapeutic options should you become injured, and more. For these reasons, it's important to recruit the right personal physician, someone who will partner with you in your quest for fitness. Here are some qualities to keep in mind.

Your ability to beat the 18-second listening rule may come down to how much practice you've had in monitoring your own body.

( Eric Heiden, M.D., a five-time Olympic gold medalist speed skater, is now an orthopedic surgeon in Utah. He co-authored "Faster, Better, Stronger: Your Fitness Bible" (HarperCollins) with exercise performance physician Max Testa, M.D., and DeAnne Musolf. Visit www.fasterbetterstronger.com.)