School’s out for summer! It’s a time when more people are outside and active after being cooped up, and winter is a tiny speck in our memories.
As a result, we often jump back into sports despite being out of shape. This is a behavior that seasonally results in higher numbers of injuries and emergency room visits.
Plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, stress fractures and pulled muscles also occur in higher frequency. Competitors, runners, high school and college athletes begin intense training during the warmer months for fall sports and race season.
There are some tips to remember and practice to help prevent these summertime injuries.
Hydration is key. Good hydration keeps muscles working efficiently. Dehydrated muscles can’t work as hard so you’re more likely to have a cramp or pull a muscle.
Dehydration can also lead to an increased risk of heat illness such as heat stroke. As your body sweats to cool itself down, body fluid as well as critical electrolytes are lost. For activities that last longer than 45 minutes to an hour, a sports drink with electrolytes is good – in addition to plenty of water.
Some of the most effective ways to prevent summer sports injuries are to wear proper shoes and to have proper equipment. Be sure your shoes are specific to the sport you’re playing and the surface they’re meant for.
As an example, running in tennis court shoes can lead to injuries or chronic pain. Make sure you have new shoes with good arch support and firm heel support.
Be mindful of changing grips in golf or tennis. Be sensitive when using new equipment, and if you develop pain, take a step back and readjust.
If you haven’t played in a while or it’s your first time playing a sport, don’t be afraid to take a lesson. Trained professionals are able to pick up on bad habits and poor form and they can correct you properly. Whether it’s golf, running or swimming, bad technique can result in pain.
If you can’t afford a private session, find an experienced friend or someone who is familiar with the sport. Online self-help videos can provide good tips. Bad habits from poor form can result in both acute injuries and chronic injuries like tendonitis.
The warm weather provides endless outdoor activities to enjoy. Make safety a top priority and take the necessary precautions needed for a safe and healthy summer.
Take breaks, know your limits, and enjoy our beautiful Lowcountry summer.
Dr. George Sutherland is an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Coastal Carolina Hospital.