By Paul E. Caldwell, MD
Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, but the increase in physical activity can put individuals at risk for injury. Whether it’s because someone is jumping back into a sport after a long winter or trying to do strenuous things when it’s too hot, summer is peak injury time. There are things you can do, however, to avoid getting hurt.
Common Warm Weather Danger Spots
Summer means trips to the pool, river and ocean, which all have wet rocks or other surfaces that are considered slipping hazards. Additionally, a lot of injuries can happen on a sports field, be it soccer or softball, the golf course, and the tennis court. And, of course, the old adage that most injuries happen in and around the home is true. The CDC reported that between 2004 and 2007, around 33.5 million injuries occurred in the United States. Of those, 54% of females and 42% of males were, in fact, injured at home. In the summer, the culprits are generally yard work, home repair, or injuries related to trying to keep up with the kids.
Common Warm Weather Injuries Related to Sports
One of the biggest causes of injury in any sport is lack of conditioning. People tend to hibernate during the winter, and when the warm weather lures them out they attempt to jump right into strenuous physical activity. This makes the body susceptible to injury in all sorts of ways. Golfers complain of shoulder, elbow and back pain. Summer tennis players can develop tennis elbow easily. Softball players who haven’t thrown a ball all winter are in danger of damaging their rotator cuff. Hitting the pavement to train for the next 5K after a long winter’s nap can lead to stress fractures and shin splints. This does not even include the vast number of ways to get hurt in a pool, especially concerning diving. Even people who play games like cornhole or disc golf can get injured, especially if they’re a little too liberal with icy cold adult beverages.
To prevent these types of injuries, it’s important to start back slow with sports and activities that weren’t played during the winter. It takes time to build up strength and tolerance, so it might be good to take a few lessons, or participate in a clinic before getting back in the game. And, of course, practice safety in every summer activity.
Common Warm Weather Injuries Related to the Home
Springtime and summertime are great seasons to do yard work and perform home repairs. However, injuries can occur that range from very serious to merely uncomfortable. Practicing ladder safety when cleaning out gutters or patching roofs is crucial, but it’s important to be mindful of the body when performing mundane, on-the-ground tasks as well. Stooping to pull weeds and plant flowers can cause back pain or pulled back muscles, especially in older people. Running around with children can be dangerous, especially when trying out the Slip-N-Slide. When doing yard work, pause occasionally to stretch. With the Slip-N-Slide, proceed with utmost caution.
Symptoms and Prevention of Common Summer Injuries
Overuse presents in sore muscles, weakness in the limbs, and insomnia. An elbow injury causes pain with gripping, and pain when swinging a golf club, tennis racket, hammer or trowel. Low and mid back pain can occur from stooping or overextension with one of the item mentioned above.
To prevent more serious damage, listen to the pain and pay attention to when it occurs. Anything other than muscle strain should be checked out by a physician.