Stay Safe Participating in These Popular Summer Activities
It’s almost June, and here in the Midwest, we just finished up our third round of winter. Yes, it’s finally starting to stay warm consistently and everyone is anxious to get outside. But while the summer months present many opportunities for fun and physical outdoor activity, orthopedic doctors see a heightened risk of injuries such as strains, sprains, fractures and dislocations.
As the temperature rises and the days grow longer, it’s important to be aware of common warm weather injuries associated with popular summer activities and how to prevent them.
Trampolines are a very popular warm weather activity for kids (and adults), but they present many dangers, some of which can be very serious. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 100,000 children are inured on trampolines each year.
Injuries range from simple sprains to fractures to permanent and devastating cervical spine injuries and possibly even death. The most common trampoline injuries are to the wrists and ankles, but any joint can potentially be affected. When jumping on a trampoline, you are at greater risk for joint and soft-tissue injuries due to the repeated and often forceful contact with the trampoline bed. Another risk factor is how high you are able to jump – the greater the height, the greater the risk of injury.
To help prevent orthopedic trampoline injuries:
- Encourage proper form when bouncing. Keep your arms close to your body, wrists straight, make sure your feet are parallel to each other and your body is in a straight position.
- Limit the height of your jumps and avoid flips or other dangerous tricks.
- Make sure only one person is on the trampoline at a time to avoid dangerous collisions.
Swimming is one of the most popular forms of exercise and recreation, with millions of people indulging in it on a regular basis, especially in the summertime. However, improper technique or over excursion can cause injuries to your bones and joints.
Shoulder impingement or instability and rotator cuff tears are the most common orthopedic injuries in swimmers due to the high forces generated while executing each stroke. Back injuries are also seen often because it places a heavy demand on your lumbar spine and surrounding muscles, causing tears, strains and spasms. The legs are another area vulnerable to injury. Knee and ankle injuries are common if you have weak joints or have overstretched the muscles or tendons.
Whether you swim for fitness or recreation, there are many precautions you can take to prevent injuries from happening:
- Take swimming lessons. It’s imperative that you know how to swim before you jump in the water.
- Warm up and stretch before you start anything more rigorous such as water games or more intense activity.
- Allow plenty of time for rest to help your joints and muscles recover.
Bicycling is another favorite summer pastime for all ages, but orthopedic doctors see lots of injuries stemming from this seemingly low impact activity too.
Cycling can cause stress to your lower back, neck, and shoulders due to poor posture or technique and overuse. In addition, injuries from falls are quite common and can include fractures, sprains, or other injuries in areas including back neck, arms, wrists, legs and ankles.
Orthopedic bicycle injuries can be prevented if you use caution. Be sure to:
- Use the correct bicycle for your size and ensure the handlebars and seat are adjusted to the right height.
- Maintain good posture while biking to reduce the strain on your spine, hips, and knees.
- Invest in quality gear. For example, comfortable and supportive bike shoes can help reduce the stress and strain on your feet, hips, and knees.
- Take regular breaks from riding to prevent injuries and give your body a chance to rest.
- Pay attention to your surrounding and always use caution.
And finally, don’t look at these potential injuries as an excuse to stay inside. Get out and enjoy the summer activities – just do so safely and smartly!