How to avoid injuries while playing sports in the summer
Whether you're an athlete (former or current) or someone who just enjoys getting outside during the summer and playing a sport, it's the perfect time of the year to get out there an have some fun.
There's always a downer it seems in the midst of all the summertime fun, and that is the risk for injury.
It could be joining an adult softball league and you're playing for the first time in a long time and you throw your back out, basketball at a block party and you break your arm, sprain an ankle playing beach volleyball or something else.
This isn't a downer of a story, you can still have fun but a couple of shore doctors are saying no matter how long the layoff between activities a couple key's to cut down the risk of injury are stretching thoroughly and knowing your limits.
So if it's a running routine your starting or racing in a competition, Dr. Vikram Varma with Community Medical Center says some of the common injuries he sees people get running tend to be from knee and back pain.
"That usually comes from not stretching and if you're not used to high-impact repetitive activity," said Varma.
Depending on the type of surface you're running on, plantar fasciitis may be one of the injuries you can develop (try and avoid concrete sidewalks if possible) but Varma suggests considering a type of sneaker with a good sole at the bottom to cushion your feet.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Fox with The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Toms River says if you haven't played ball or run in while, warming up extensively and stretching will help cut your risk of injury as well.
"Many of the non-athletes are not tuned up and they get a lot of sprains and strains from not warming up and not being in shape," said Fox, who also has served and will be the official team physician for the upcoming 2017 All-Shore High School Football game you can preview at shoresportsnetwork.com.
"If they're tight and think they can just go out there and play tennis recreationally and they haven't picked up a racket in a year, they're going to either hurt their shoulder or their elbow," said Fox.
Which is where something like "tennis elbow" or "golfers elbow" can become a factor.
Whether it's a round of golf, hitting cleanup for your summer softball league or even swimming or running on the beach, you can still have fun and not worry so much about getting hurt as long as you've warmed up.
Varma says the keys to avoiding injuries in the summer are stretching before, yes, but also after playing any sport to keep the muscles from tightening up.
He also says staying hydrated in the heat of summer is also critical, not only so you don't pass out but so your muscles have enough fuel to keep playing and not become weak.
"Sometimes you can develop muscle cramps, especially if it's warm," said Varma. "Volume loss can be quite large so make sure you keep well hydrated with different electrolyte drinks."
Varma adds that eating some healthy snacks can also help.
Fox says it's also important to know your limits on any athletic surface in the summer, whether it's the beach or a tennis court.
"Instead of going to play 18-holes of golf and you start off with nine or instead of playing three-sets of tennis you're playing just one set," said Fox.
He says if you do have a history of injuries, wearing a brace while you play can also help in supporting the joints.
You shouldn't avoid going out there and playing sports in the summer just in fear of getting hurt, in fact Varma says that risk is higher when you stay in and do nothing.
"Just use common sense," said Varma. "Keep well hydrated, carry water with you, other kinds of electrolytes, carry snacks and stretch beforehand."