Enjoy Summertime While Avoiding Sports Injuries
Blue skies and blazing sunshine create a wonderful arena for outdoor sports. With a little care, we can avoid (or at least minimize) the injuries that so easily accompany outbursts of celebratory summer activity. Here are some tips:
• Go slow at first. Exploding into intense activity after an extended period of inactivity can easily result in muscle sprains and tendinitis. Outright tendon ruptures are not out of the question either. Beginning with a short walk and perhaps a few quick yoga exercises is a great idea. Warming up helps everyone, but older folks need it more than hyperactive children or teenagers.
• Be mindful of your limitations. Your body isn't a machine. It's a complex living organism with unique strengths and weaknesses. It's the temple of your soul. There's no shame in treating it with respect and care.
• Wear protective gear as appropriate. Baseball, basketball, football and other popular sports each carry their own risks of injury. A helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and other protective equipment will go a long way toward preventing unexpected impacts from sending you to the emergency room.
• Get plenty of rest. Fatigue is a sure sign that you need more restorative sleep. Your body needs to heal from physical strain. Also, being rested means normal alertness against potentially harmful motions. You'll pull back instead of twisting around too much, jumping too fast, or trying to stretch your tendons or muscles beyond their natural limits. It's simple body wisdom.
• Consider strength training. It's no accident that nearly all top competitive athletes engage in strength training to extend their performance envelopes. They know it works. Judicious strength training also reduces the potential for unexpected injuries.
• Stay hydrated. We're all creatures of the ancient sea. Our bodies are mostly salty water. We need periodic infusions of more water to prevent dehydration. Hot weather can sneak up on us and squeeze out astonishing amounts of water as sweat. We also need sodium and other electrolytes. A properly formulated sports drink can help keep us replenished.
• Beware of heat exhaustion. It doesn't only affect marathon runners and soldiers undergoing strenuous training in hot or humid conditions. It can strike any of us without warning. Unusually heavy sweating and an overly rapid heartbeat are clear warning signs. A victim of heat exhaustion should immediately sit down in a shaded area and ingest fluids to cool down. Retreating to an air-conditioned recovery area and drinking water is even better.
• Heatstroke is the last stage of heat exhaustion. If left untreated, it can result in serious internal injuries or even death. Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If at all possible, immediately douse the victim with water. Call emergency services right away. ER paramedics have special tools for cooling down a heatstroke victim on the way to the emergency room.
• Rest from time to time. Regardless of the activity, resting will cool you down and permit you to listen to your body. It may have had enough for the day. Tomorrow is soon enough to embrace the activities of summer again.