Summer is an active time for many people. Baseball, softball, swimming, tennis, soccer, golf and other sports and recreational activities provide the chance to get outside and have fun while exercising. If you're not careful, however, summer fun can lead to some serious sports related injuries. The staff at Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Specialists, LLC in Fort Dodge have some strategies for avoiding having to sit out on the sidelines because of injury.
First and foremost, no matter what activity you're planning to take part in, always take time to warm up and stretch. Research studies have shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, stationary cycling or running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes. Then slowly and gently stretch, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.
Dean Kirschenmann, Certified Athletic Trainer with Wright Medical Center and Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Specialists, LLC, emphasized the importance of hydration during this time of year. "With the types of high heat indexes we have in the summer months, people need to think about staying hydrated for their activity level," Kirschenmann said. "You need to start by drinking 16 oz. 1 to 2 hours prior to activity." Twenty minutes or so beforehand Kirschenmann recommends another 8 ounces of cool, sports beverages with electrolites.
Dean Kirschenmann of Wright Medical Center and Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Specialists, LLC of Fort Dodge offers timely advice on staying healthy during summertime sports and fun.
"It's important to keep the fluids going, 4 to 6 ounces every 15 minutes during activity when it's hot out. When you're done, another 8 to 16 ounces," said Kirschenmann. He recommends cooled sports drinks as his first choice, but water is better than getting dehydrated. Energy drinks or drinks with caffeine should be avoided as they will contribute to dehydration.
Muscle cramps, lethargy, dizziness, feel lightheaded or nauseous, get a headache or experience tingling in your neck are all signs that you've had too much sun exposure. Kirschenmann recommended getting into the shade or an air conditioned space. If after 30 to 60 minutes you are not feeling better, alert someone to your condition and seek medical attention.
Nearly 172,000 swimming-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms, doctors' offices, and clinics in 2007 according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers these tips to prevent swimming injuries:
The most common swimming injury is shoulder pain due to repetitive motion. The best way to prevent this is with a general exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder and upper back.
Learn how to swim and do not swim alone. Swim in supervised areas where lifeguards are present. Inexperienced swimmers should wear lifejackets in the water.
Do not attempt to swim if you are too tired, too cold, or overheated.
Do not swim vigorously if you have a fever, upper respiratory infection, or ear infection.
Prevent "swimmer's ear" by drying the ear canal with a cotton tip after swimming.
Avoid diving into shallow or murky water.
Dive only off the end of a diving board. Do not run on the board, try to dive far out, or bounce more than once. Swim away from the board immediately after the dive, to allow room for the next diver. Make sure there is only one person on the board at a time.
When swimming in open water, never run and enter waves headfirst. Make sure the water is free of undercurrents and other hazards.
Do not swim in a lake or river after a storm if the water seems to be rising or if there is flooding because currents may become strong. The clarity and depth of the water may have changed, and new hazards may be present.
Check weather reports before going swimming to avoid being in the water during storms, fog, or high winds. Because water conducts electricity, being in the water during an electrical storm is dangerous.
Remember that alcohol and water don't mix. Alcohol affects not only judgment, but it slows movement and impairs vision. It can reduce swimming skills and make it harder to stay warm.
Be knowledgeable about first aid and be able to administer it for minor injuries, such as facial cuts, bruises, or minor tendonitis, strains, or sprains.
Be prepared for emergency situations and have a plan to reach medical personnel to treat injuries such as concussions, dislocations, bruises, wrist or finger sprains, and fractures.
Tennis Injury Prevention
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 21,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, and hospital emergency rooms for tennis-related injuries in 2007. Here are some things you can do to maximize the safe enjoyment of your next match.
Try to avoid playing on hard surface courts with no "give," such as cement, asphalt, or synthetic courts. To prevent lower back injuries when playing tennis on hard surface courts, wear heel inserts to absorb the shock.
Wear tennis shoes with good support to prevent ankle injuries. For added support, wear two pairs of socks or specially padded tennis socks.
To prevent blisters on your hands, dry your racket handle frequently.
When serving or hitting an overhead, do not arch your back unnecessarily. Instead, bend your knees and raise your heels, so your upper body weight is evenly balanced.
Avoid landing on the ball of your foot, which could result in an Achilles tendon injury.
Plantar fasciitis can occur if your foot is overused. Rest is the best remedy; but wearing a tennis shoe with medial arch support or a heel cup can sometimes alleviate the pain.
A final word of caution to help ensure the best experience possible for fun in the sun: be aware of lightening. Kirschenmann said many people are unaware that lightening can strike up to 10 miles away from a storm. "If there's thunder," said Kirschenmann, "there's always the potential for lightening to strike."
If you find yourself at the ball park, the beach, the tennis courts or golf course and the skies begin to darken, the best course of action is to seek shelter. If you're caught in a sudden storm with no shelter nearby, your vehicle is the next best option. "Stay away from trees and water (including puddles) and avoid holding onto anything metal like bats or clubs."
If you sense that lightening is nearby or feel the hair on the back of your neck rise, do not lay down flat. "Laying flat gives more surface area for a lightening strike to travel through your body and do damage," Kirschenmann said. He said the recommended advice is simply to squat down and make yourself into as small a bundle as possible, giving the lightening less area to travel through if you are struck.
If a summer sports injury causes you a time out, the medical experts at Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Specialists, LLC offer fast, convenient and knowledgeable help on the road to healing. For a host of information and tips to avoid injuries during a variety of other sports and activities visit Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Specialists, LLC on line at www.orthosportsmedonline.com and follow the "Patient Education" link on the left.