Starting slow is key to preventing summer heat injuries
The warmth and sunshine of summer beckons us to get outside and get active. We are excited to try new sports, to get in shape and to enjoy the recreation of the season. With the health benefits of staying active, this activity also brings with it the potential for injury in ways that are unique to summer. Sprained ankles, dehydration, heat exhaustion and sunburn are just some of the risks of summer exercise.
After months of relative inactivity, many people dive into summer exercise with gusto, without considering the state of their health and fitness. Orthopedic surgeon Christopher Hubbard, MD, recommends taking it slow at first and building up to a level of activity that is safe and comfortable.“Our workouts in the winter are different than the those in the summer. People jump right into racquet sports, pickleball, basketball and running without preparing their bodies for the impact.”
To avoid the unfortunate twists, turns and pops of knees and ankles, Jonathan Roth, MD, urges people to warm up and stretch before they exercise or engage in sports. He often sees a seasonal uptick in injuries including sprains, shoulder tendonitis, muscle cramping, hamstring and quad strains and even Achilles ruptures. Most are a result of overuse and overexertion.
If you are a conditioned athlete, injuries are less common. But most people do not stretch, strengthen or exercise regularly. Regular exercise for strengthening all muscle groups and regular dynamic stretching for upper and lower body is important.
Low impact sports such as cycling, swimming and walking are gentler on the body, while more extreme sports such as hang gliding, high-speed water sports (such as jet-skiing), rock climbing, and diving into bodies of water are the most dangerous.
Even seemingly gentle activities can lead to unexpected injuries. A walk or jog on the beach on soft sand or near the edge of the water where erosion creates steep inclines presents hazards to the feet and ankles. Hiking trails in the woods are filled with rocks and tree roots that cause people to trip and fall. Be careful in these environments and be sure to know your limits. Footwear is also important. Dr. Hubbard advises people to make sure their shoes fit their feet as well as the activity they are designed for.
Be Proactive About Your Health
To stay safe and healthy, it's good to have a primary care provider who knows and understands your health history and wellness goals. If you encounter any unexpected injuries this summer, our orthopedists have you covered.
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