Avoiding injury during summer sporting activities
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:02AM
Summer is finally here, which means it’s time for outdoor sporting activities and getting in shape to show off that new swimsuit. While our jobs and family consume most of our time during the week, the temptation of putting in an intense workout during the weekends seems like a good idea. For the “weekend warrior” who amps up the intensity of his or her activity level on the weekends is increasing their risk of spending this summer with a severe injury.
“Weekend warriors may face both traumatic injuries and overuse injuries if they do not maintain a consistent level of exercise throughout the week,” said Daryl O’Connor, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopedic Specialists and on staff at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital. “Serious conditions, such as tendon injuries, ligament tears and severe lower back pain, may occur if you fail to take the proper precautions before and after exercising.”
According to O’Connor, there are several things you can do to help prevent weekend warrior injuries including:
Maintain a regular and balanced routine: Activity should be performed regularly and should include stretching and a warm-up. Try working out three days a week with an intensity level that you can handle in order to properly condition your body and prevent injury. Avoid vigorous sports if played only occasionally. Cutting sports like basketball and soccer are more likely to cause injury if played infrequently.
Perform a warm-up before beginning the activity: Warming up the muscles and tendons prior to exertion can help to prevent sprains and other stress on the body. Our muscles lose elasticity as we age, which increases the risk for injury. Going for a light jog or fast walk around the block can help your body prepare for your next workout or sporting activity.
Listen to your body: The “no pain, no gain” theory is not accurate in this case. If you feel sharp or stabbing pain with an activity, you should stop. This is your body’s way of telling you that it’s had enough.
“While it is normal for your muscles to be a little sore a day or two after working out, you should contact your doctor if you are experiencing fatigue or pain 48 hours after engaging in any activity,” O’Connor said. “Prolonged pain can be a sign of a serious underlying health issue that should be checked out to prevent further injury.”
Be wary of muscle fatigue. If your performance during activity appears affected by fatigue, it may be time to stop or rest. Many ligament and tendon injuries occur when the muscles have become tired and inefficient.
The most important thing to remember is that every person and injury is different. Contact your local doctor if you experience pain or swelling after an activity.
Shauna Schuda wrote this column for Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare