Tips to stay injury free outdoors
With the warm weather comes outdoor sports, activities and exercise. This increase in activity leads to an increase in the potential for injuries.
From stepping up your at home workout to simply running around outside with your kids, it’s easy to become too preoccupied with the fun and warmer weather to realize you’re at risk for getting hurt.
“When it’s winter and icy, people are on the lookout for risks, but not so much in the summer. When the temperatures rise, we see an increase in the number of fractures, strain injuries and more,” says Michael Sobolewski, DO, FAAOS, an orthopaedic surgeon at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital specializing in sports medicine and joint replacement.
Here are some simple steps to take to make sure you have a safe and injury-free summer.
Proper posture and form to prevent injury
With all the time you’re spending outside in your yard, you likely want it to look beautiful. But gardening and spreading mulch can be a back-breaking chore. Practicing proper posture can help protect our joints which can alleviate back pain, neck pain and even knee pain.
“When working out in your yard, be sure you’re bending with your knees – not with your back – to avoid back pain or injury. And make sure you’re using your legs to lift heavy objects,” Dr. Sobolewski says, adding that not following this advice can lead to you throwing out your back.
Warm up and stretch for any activity
When it comes to playing outside, it may seem like innocent fun, but it can actually be rigorous physical activity. And if you’re not used to the activity, you’re putting yourself at risk of cutting your summer fun short with a knee injury, hip injury or back injury.
“Before engaging in physical activity outdoors, whether it’s playing with your kids, hopping on a bike, or going for a run, make sure you prep your body,” Dr. Sobolewski says. “Warm up and then take the time to stretch. This will loosen up your muscles, joints and ligaments, which can prevent injuries during your activity.”
But warming up isn’t the only thing you can do to prevent an injury during your summertime activities. If you’ve been somewhat sedentary, jumping into an activity can be dangerous.
“In order to prevent injury, you need to ease into the activity, condition and strength train. This gets your body accustomed to the increased level of outdoor activity,” Dr. Sobolewski says.
Take breaks and drink water
During your fun outside, taking breaks can also help you prevent injuries.
“Make sure you’re taking water breaks. Between the heat and your physical exertion, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water keeps your body temperature normal and keeps your muscles lubricated. And, if you’re sweating, drinking water replenishes those fluids, preventing muscle cramps,” Dr. Sobolewski says.
And, you might want to consider turning that water break into a water rest.
“Sit down between pick-up games with friends, playing tag with your children, and in between sprints and take a break. This gives your body a chance to rest and restore, allowing you to recharge and admire all of the summertime beauty around you,” Dr. Sobolewski says.
If you do get a minor orthopaedic injury, such as a sprain, strain or simple fracture, you can visit us at one of our orthopaedic urgent care clinics.
Meet Michael Sobolewski, DO
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