The arrival of warmer weather brings a new season of outdoor activities – running, hiking, biking, golf, baseball, softball, soccer, or maybe just working on the house or in the garden. With over 10 million sports injuries occurring each year, just be sure to ease your body into these activities by following these tips – and using good sense:
Consult a Doctor If You Have Doubts
If you’re older, out of shape, suffer from certain health conditions, or have had sports injuries in the past, visit your family physician before you kick into high gear. A checkup can reveal whether old injuries have properly healed and ensure old injuries do not become chronic problems. Also, if you have ever been diagnosed with heart disease, asthma, or diabetes, consult your doctor before you begin any exercise program. If you are unsure of whether or not you need medical approval, call your doctor’s office and ask.
If it has been a while since participating in an activity, slowly ease into it to reduce the risk of painful injury. Exercise lightly, like leisurely walking, to help build stamina and increase flexibility; then gradually increase the intensity level. Just be sure you’re comfortable with moderately intense physical activity before participating in vigorous activity.
Wear Appropriate Gear
For some outdoor activities you should wear a helmet to help protect against head injuries. In fact, studies have shown that wearing an appropriate helmet can reduce your risk of death by up to 60 percent. Also, for certain sports, consider a mouth guard that doesn’t interfere with your performance. Other types of protective gear can include elbow, wrist and knee guards, eye protection, knee pads and groin cup.
Warm Up and Stretch
Warm ups and stretches go hand in hand, but are different from one another. Painful sports injuries are most commonly caused by improper warm ups. Warm up with a low-level activity like jump rope or jumping jacks before you stretch for a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes. Warm ups raise muscle temperatures, which make the entire body more flexibility for physical activity.
Stretch to improve blood circulation, increase flexibility, and continue to raise muscle temperatures. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Each stretch should only be done once. If a person stretches a muscle before a proper warm up, the muscle will still be cold, and make the person more susceptible to injury.
Use Proper Techniques
Many sports require the use of different techniques to lessen the risk of sports-related injuries to tendons, bones, and muscles. If you are unsure of what techniques you are supposed to use, talk with a coach or trainer to help you.
Whether it is a leisurely activity, practice or a game and so many activities in the spring are outside, take precautions to avoid heat illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to rest in cool, shaded places; if possible, in an air-conditioned building or a heat-relief shelter in your area.
It’s important to know the rules of the game you’re playing so that you can play smart and safely and help prevent injuries from occurring. If you or someone else is not mentally in the game, it puts others at risk due to lack of focus.
The American Heart Association says that keeping the body hydrated assists the heart, allowing it to pump blood easily and helping the muscles work more efficiently. As temperatures rise, someone who sweats heavily requires more fluid than someone who does not perspire as heavily. The American Heart Association says that for every pound of sweat that you lose, a pint of water is needed to restore the lost fluid. Water is preferred. Avoid beverages that are filled with sugar, because they cause the body to lose more fluid. Sports drinks can be useful during vigorous activities.
Don’t Play Hurt
If you sustain a common muscle or joint injury, it is not safe to “play through the pain” because it could result in a more severe injury or a chronic problem. Allow the injury time to heal before you return to practice. Remember the RICE method when you have an injury: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation. And then take time off to let your injury repair. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, recovery time is crucial and, without rest, people are at risk for repetitive or chronic injury.
Turn to NJ Pain Care Specialists
Should pain from an injury or condition persist and not respond to traditional therapy, NJ Pain Care Specialists offers a range of effective, safe, non-surgical treatments to help you get back in action, including Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) to promote new tissue formation and help heal tendon damage, and Stem Cell Therapy – a new way to harvest large amounts of stem cells from your own body for the repair and regeneration of various tissues and organs.
At the present time, Stem Cell Therapy and PRP Treatments are not covered by medical insurance.