Summer: the perfect time of year to get outside, get moving, and enjoy all that nature has to offer! For as fun as this season is, however, some summer activities have a lot of potential for injury. Here are five kinds of injuries that are common in the summertime, along with tips on how to avoid them.
Heat-related injuries are some of the most common problems faced by athletes (and others) during the summer months. Some of the most common heat-related injuries include:
- Heat cramps: These are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually affect people working out in hot environments. These cramps are typically caused by dehydration and/or electrolyte imbalances.
- Heat exhaustion: This is a more serious injury that can occur when the body becomes dehydrated, usually from excessive sweating. While older adults and people with high blood pressure are at an increased risk, this condition can affect anyone. Symptoms include headache, nausea, lightheadedness, and fatigue.
- Heat stroke: This is the most serious type of heat-related injury. This injury happens when the body can no longer regulate its temperature, leading to organ damage, organ failure, and even death. Symptoms include confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
There are several steps you can take to avoid heat-related injuries. First, it's important to stay hydrated. Take a large, reusable water bottle with you wherever you go, especially if you'll be exercising. It's also a good idea to avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can dehydrate the body.
Second, try to exercise during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or evening. Midday tends to be the hottest part of the day, so it's best to avoid strenuous activity then. If you must exercise during the daytime, try exercising in an air-conditioned area. That may mean hitting the gym or just taking a walk around the local mall, depending on your preferred activity.
Third, wearing light, loose-fitting clothing can also help keep your body temperature down. Light clothing is more breathable and will help you to sweat more, which can actually help cool your body down. Loose-fitting clothing, on the other hand, allows your skin to breathe and will also help you to sweat more.
Fourth, be sure to acclimate gradually to hot weather. If you're not used to exercising in the heat, start slowly and increase your activity level and the intensity of your workouts gradually.
Finally, it's important to listen to your body. If you're feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous, stop what you're doing and get out of the heat. These could be early signs of a heat-related injury, so it's best to err on the side of caution.
Sports injuries are some of the most common injuries athletes suffer from in the summer, as there are more opportunities to play sports outdoors. Some of the most common sports injuries include:
- Strains: These occur when the muscles or tendons are stretched beyond their limits. This can happen from overuse, improper warm-up, or sudden changes in direction.
- Sprains: Commonly confused with strains, sprains occur when the ligaments are stretched beyond their limits. Like strains, this can be caused by overuse, improper warm-up, or sudden changes in direction.
- Fractures and broken bones: Injuries to the bones are relatively rare, but they can occur. These injuries are usually caused by high-impact collisions or falls.
- Dislocations: These occur when the bones in a joint are forced out of place. This can happen from a fall, blow to the joint, or sudden change in direction.
- Concussions: These are brain injuries that can occur from a blow to the head. Concussions can range from mild to severe, and they can have short- and long-term effects.
There are several steps you can take to prevent sports injuries. First, it's important to warm up properly and do stretching exercises before playing any sport. This will help loosen your muscles and increase your heart rate, which can help prevent injuries. Warm muscles are far less prone to injury than 'cold muscles,' making it extremely important to take the time to warm up.
Second, be sure to cool down after playing any sport. You might not know it, but cooling down is just as important as warming up! Rather than coming to a sudden stop, gradually reduce the intensity of your activity to allow your heart rate to slowly return to normal. This will help your muscles recover and prevent cramping.
Third, be sure to wear the proper protective equipment for your sport. This might include things like helmets, pads, face guards, mouth guards, and even protective cups. Wearing the proper equipment can help protect you from serious injuries in the event of a collision or fall.
Fourth, try shaking things up every once in a while! For instance, if you normally play tennis, try playing other sports like basketball or soccer, or try a new activity like swimming or strength training. This will help you avoid overuse injuries caused by repetitive motions.
Finally, it's important to know your limits. Don't try to do more than you're physically capable of. This is especially important if you're just starting to play a sport or if you're coming back from a previous injury. Plus, just like when preventing heat-related injuries, it's important to listen to your body. If you're experiencing pain, take a moment to rest and seek treatment if necessary. Ignoring pain can lead to more serious injuries down the road, especially if your sports injury is left untreated.
It's important that parents of young athletes be aware of potential sports injuries, but even if your child isn't yet old enough to play a recreational sport, they may still be at risk of injury. From minor bumps and bruises to sprains and broken bones, the playground can be a dangerous place if children and their parents aren't careful.
There are several things parents can do to help prevent playground injuries:
- Choose the right playground for your child. More specifically, look for one that has age-appropriate equipment and is well-maintained.
- Supervise your child while they're playing. This will help you prevent them from engaging in risky behaviors, and it will also allow you to intervene if they do get hurt.
- Teach your child about playground safety. Show them the proper way to use playground equipment to play safe and make sure they understand the importance of being careful while they play.
Going to the pool is a summer staple, but it's important to be aware of the potential risks associated with swimming. Whether you're planning on doing laps or taking the whole family out for some fun, there are a few things to be aware of:
- Depth: Especially for younger members of your group, or those who may not be strong swimmers, be aware of the depth of the pool. Staying in the shallow water, where it's easy to stand, can be much safer.
- Lifeguard: If there's a lifeguard on duty, make sure to follow any instructions they give. If you're swimming at a private pool with no lifeguard, make sure there's always someone else around in case you need help.
- Crowds: Pools can often be quite crowded, so it's important to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. If you're not comfortable with the level of crowding, it may be best to find a different spot or come back at a less busy time.
- Slip hazards: From slippery pool decks to misplaced pool toys, there are a number of potential hazards around pools. Be sure to take extra care to avoid slipping and falling, which could lead to serious injury.
- Warnings: Pay attention to posted signs and heed any warnings about potential hazards in the pool area. For instance, if there's a sign that forbids diving in the shallow end, listen to it!
With warmer weather comes the perfect opportunity to get outside and explore on two wheels. But before you hop on your bike, it's important to be aware of the potential risks:
- Head injuries: Head injuries are some of the most serious bike-related injuries, and they're also some of the most preventable. Wearing a properly fitting helmet can help reduce your risk.
- Road hazards: Another potential danger of biking is road hazards. Be on the lookout for potholes, cracks, and other obstacles that could cause you to lose control of your bike.
- Cars: When biking, you'll also need to share the road with cars. Be sure to follow all traffic laws and be aware of your surroundings to help reduce the risk of an accident.
As with any outdoor activity, it's important to take precautions to avoid injury. By following these basic tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for everyone.
However, if an injury should occur, visit a healthcare provider for treatment. Depending on your injury, physical therapy may be recommended in order to help you recover quickly and safely. Whether you're dealing with a sports-related injury or another common summer injury, the physical therapists at Performance UNLIMITED are here to help!
If you experience an injury, pain, or discomfort when participating in your favorite activity this summer, make sure to visit the physical therapists at Performance UNLIMITED. Schedule an appointment online to take control of your recovery.