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Sabolewski: Staying safe outdoors

With the warm weather comes outdoor sports and activities, exercise and vacations. All this increase in activity leads to an increase in the potential for injuries. From training for a marathon to simply running around outside with your kids and grandchildren, it’s easy to become too preoccupied with the fun and warmer weather to realize you’re at risk for getting hurt.

When it’s winter and icy, people are on the lookout for risks, but not so much in the summer. When the temperatures rise, we see an increase in the number of fractures, strain injuries and more.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior, recreational enthusiast or a summertime vacationer, there are some simple steps to take to make sure you have a safe and injury-free summer.

With all the time you’re spending outside in your yard, you likely want it to look beautiful. But gardening and spreading mulch can be a back-breaking chore.

When working in your yard, be sure you’re bending with your knees – not with your back. And make sure you’re using your legs to lift heavy objects. And remember – not following this advice can lead to you throwing out your back.

When it comes to playing outside, it may seem like innocent fun, but it can actually be rigorous physical activity. And if you’re not used to the activity after being stuck inside during winter months, you’re putting yourself at risk of cutting your summer fun short with an injury.

Before engaging in physical activity outdoors, whether it’s playing with your kids, hopping on a bike or going for a run, make sure you prep your body. Warm up and then take the time to stretch. This will loosen up your muscles, joints and ligaments, which can prevent injuries during your activity.

But warming up isn’t the only thing you can do to prevent an injury during your summertime activities. If you’ve been somewhat sedentary, jumping into an activity can be dangerous.

You wouldn’t run a marathon without training. While that’s an extreme example, it rings true for starting any new activity. In order to prevent injury, you need to ease into the activity, condition and strength train. This gets your body accustomed to the increased level of outdoor activity.

During your summer fun outside, taking breaks can also help you prevent injuries.

Make sure you’re taking water breaks. Between the heat and your physical exertion, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water keeps your body temperature normal and keeps your muscles lubricated. Plus, if you’re sweating, drinking water replenishes those fluids, preventing muscle cramps.

You might also want to consider turning that water break into a water rest.

Sit down between pick-up games with friends, playing tag with your children, in between sprints and take a break. This gives your body a chance to rest and restore, allowing you to recharge and admire all the summertime beauty around you.

Michael Sobolewski, DO, FAAOS is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital specializing in sports medicine and joint replacement.

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