The Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer: Proceed With Caution
Summer is upon us and gone for now are the days of cold weather and spring showers. School is out and the warmer temps and sunshine have most of us excited to be outdoors. From backyard barbeques, boat rides, beach trips and ball games, fun times are abound. Unfortunately, many suffer from sudden orthopaedic injuries while doing these fun summer activities. There are key thing that we can do to preemptively take care of our bodies and avoid those injuries from occurring and ruining your summer plans.
You might think that your backyard is a safe place to be and the chance of an injury is minimal. However, backyard games like flag football, volleyball, and kickball, while not organized sports, can become quite competitive and lead to injury if you're not careful. And don’t forget slip n’ slides and trampolines which can be both physically demanding and dangerous playgrounds for our ankles and bones.
If you’re like my mother who loves to garden, the summertime is the season to show off the lawn and the flowers in all their grandeur. After all, yard work is touted as a safe and therapeutic summer activity, right!? Don’t be too sure! Just this weekend my mother created her own orthopaedic injury after a morning full of pulling weeds, trimming branches and carrying her heavy gardening equipment across the yard.
Most summer sports such as swimming, baseball, softball and volleyball are no stranger to orthopaedic injuries, specifically shoulder injuries. Swimmers who repetitively arc their shoulders doing the freestyle or backstroke, or pitchers who stress the joint in repetitive pitches, and volleyball players who repetitively swing their arms overhead to serve or spike the ball can suffer from muscle strains, tears of the rotator cuff, or a painful impingement of the tendons causing inflammation and swelling.
Biking, cycling and running also require repetitive movements that can lead to overuse of your knees leading to arthritis over time. Not to mention accidents and falls that can lead to multiple injuries like dislocations, breaks, road rash and even head trauma.
Football and soccer are dangerous sports with a high risk for knee injuries such as MCL and ACL tears with quick turns or shifts in direction, a twist of the leg, collisions or tackles, or even with stress from kicking a ball. Head and neck injuries are common due to tackling or doing headers on the soccer field.
Whether you are a professional athlete or engaging in a summertime hobby, proceed with caution and consider these key preventative reminders to avoid an abrupt end to your summer fun:
- Stretch and Warm Up – Do some light cardio to get the blood flowing before any significant activity. This helps to warm up your muscles so that you can stretch and loosen them to prepare for movement and to optimize your performance.
- Use Proper Technique - Being certain to use proper technique and the right amount of training and subsequent recovery can help to avoid sudden injury as well as overuse and fatigue of the joint and its supporting structures. Good body mechanics are always helpful in proper positioning and injury prevention.
- Use Protective Gear – Be sure to wear proper protective gear like a helmet or pads where appropriate – especially with biking and all contact sports.
- Rest – Allow for proper periods of rest between activities to avoid overuse and exertion. Rest allows for recovery from the stress and microtrauma we create. Should you have an injury occur, stop and R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate) which allows for time to heal and to minimize pain and swelling.
- Eat Healthy – Be sure to hydrate and give your body the proper nutrients that it needs to carry our the demands you place on it. A properly balanced diet will support bone health as well.
- Take it Easy – Between the summer fun and games, find time to connect with others, relax and enjoy.
I wish you all a safe and fun summer and don’t forget to join us for our Annual Business Meeting on July 13th from 4:00-5:00 p.mm CT where all members can come together to hear about our accomplishments from the last year and ask questions about our beloved association. As the summer winds down plan to join us on September 20th for our first Allied Health and APRN Virtual Symposium in which you can receive up to 12 CNE credits and learn about key orthopaedic topics from expert colleagues across the country! Let’s Go!
Michele Hughes, DNP, ACNP-BC, APRN, ONP-C