Summertime means long, exuberant days spent outside playing, exercising, and just enjoying. But it also comes with increased injuries. In fact, emergency rooms experience nearly 34,000 visits just in summer alone, particularly on weekends. They range from grill and open fire burns to near drownings, dehydration and heat stroke, insect bites, and sports injuries. What kind of sports injuries? Mostly due to overuse, but also sprains and accidents.
Overuse. Most desk jockeys welcome summertime as an awakening opportunity to hop on their bikes, tie on their hiking boots, or slip into the swimming pool, among other activities. However, unless you’ve been doing any of these activities year-round, you risk overuse of muscles. Many people don’t warm up properly, straining a muscle here and there, and the repetitive motion from some of the activities can aggravate sleepy muscles. Stress fractures from running, for example, occur more as people add mileage through the summer months. Tennis players find themselves experiencing elbow pain. And people who bike experience more knee pain as well as wrist and back pain from poor posture and too much pressure on their hands.
What to do: Ease in slowly. Make sure your form is correct. For cyclists, have an expert examine your bike to make sure it fits and the seat and handlebars are in proper place. Do dynamic warm-ups before heading out. Stretch afterwards. And practice cross-training: if you biked one day, try swimming the next.
Trampolines. Believe it or not, trampoline accidents send more people to the hospital than they’re willing to admit. Kids who fall off, land incorrectly, or jump with multiple people on the trampoline risk strains and fractures.
What to do: Jump solo on the trampoline, with supervision at hand. Don’t attempt to do jackknives or other tricks that could risk injury or landing on your head. Stay in the middle of the trampoline. And like any other activity, make sure to warm up your legs and body so you don’t strain a muscle.
Overuse injuries among kids. All-day sports camps where kids practice repetitive motions day in and day out can eventually lead to strain and injury. This is especially problematic among kids who have not participated in a spring sports activity, and among kids who didn’t get a single break all year from athletics.
What to do: If possible, enroll your child in a sports camp that limits practice to a few hours a day with breaks. Don’t put them in two sports camps at once, and give them a break in between sports camps. If they haven’t been active, start getting them outside moving around. Emphasize the importance of warming up, and to be honest about any pain they might be experiencing.
Ankle sprains. It’s easy to roll your ankle out when you’re moving around more than ever – stepping off the curb wrong, turning your foot while doing yardwork, missing a step while hiking, or playing a game of beach volleyball. (We’d like to add other activities such as slip n’ slides, bounce houses, playing soccer or football in the rain, and mud racing as a large cause of injury as well.)
What to do: Make sure you’re wearing proper footwear corresponding to the activity. For example, ankle supporting hiking boots are critical for a long hike on uneven terrain. Avoid wearing non-supportive shoes such as flip flops. Of course, these are always caused by accidents, and may not be avoidable. In that case, follow the RICE procedure to heal your ankle sprain: rest, ice, compression and elevation.