A medical doctor, especially one that specializes in sports medicine – a relatively new focus – can check your overall fitness before beginning, help you define your limits, and recommend specific routines to help you accomplish your chosen goals. Regrettably, not all physicians are created equal. They’re rushed, overburdened with government regulations and paperwork and sometimes they’re just not very good doctors. This shouldn’t be surprising. Every other profession has a range of competence, there’s no reason to expect medical doctors to be any different.
Unless you are fortunate enough to get a great recommendation, experience (a part of which is simple trial and error) will ultimately land you a medical doctor suitable for your purpose. Asking the right questions like “What is your experience with sports medicine?”, “What is your stance on diet ‘X’ or drug ‘Y’?”, “What would you recommend for someone like me?” – will help you reach that goal.
Don’t be put off by a busy doctor, you’re paying for his or her time. Also, find one that’s willing to explain in terms you can understand, without acting like you’re an idiot for asking. Nearly all physicians will have a basic knowledge of anatomy, nutrition, proper functioning, and so forth. But physicians who specialize in sports or fitness will have a thorough, in-depth experience-based knowledge of the subject. It’s no criticism of physicians that they do not all have that. No one can be an expert in every area.
That in-depth expertise will help you in a dozen ways.
A physician can help you find out the cause of your pain. Optimizing your cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and overall fitness involves understanding first and foremost how different routines will affect you in particular.
Men and women have basic differences and even racial differences play a part in developing correct routines. Body types differ among different groups. Each individual has a specific arrangement of joints and muscles, a unique level of lung and heart capacity, a distinctive genetic inheritance, and so forth. Ultimately, you need a workout that is optimized for you specifically. A sports physician can help you achieve those goals, beyond the level at which most fitness professionals – good as many of them are – can generally do so. Make time to see one before beginning any strenuous exercise program.