According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,000 people visit the ER every day for sports and exercise related injuries. And if you’ve slacked off a bit with your fitness and activity level over the winter, it’s even more important to take a few precautions now to stay pain and injury free. Try a few of these tips to keep you in fighting shape throughout the summer and beyond.
- Be realistic. Once you’ve passed your 30th birthday, you need to use some common sense before you jump into a new sport or activity. Make sure your overall fitness level is high enough to withstand the rigors of a new activity, and ease into it slowly.
- Show some restraint. Being sedentary all week, then pushing yourself to extremes over the weekend is a recipe for disaster. Take a little time during the week to work on your fitness, strength and flexibility and you’ll perform much better at your weekend activities. And setting some limits on how much you do during the weekend will help ensure you can return week after week.
- Warm up properly. A painful sprain can sideline you for weeks. While sprains can occur anytime, you can reduce your risk by taking five minutes to stretch and warm up your muscle prior to getting into full action.
- Use proper technique. Whether you’re taking up running for the first time, learning to play tennis, or trying new equipment at the gym, maintaining the proper form and technique is important to preventing injuries. Take a lesson or invest in a training session or two to ensure that you understand the mechanics behind the movements.
- Listen to your body. If you feel sudden or intense pain – stop! If you have an injury that appears to be minor, try the RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation. If you experience major swelling, are unable to put weight on the injured limb, or have severe pain or pain that doesn’t subside within 48 hours, get immediate medical attention. And if you have any chest pain or fullness, shortness of breath, or dizziness that last more than a few minutes, call 9-1-1.
- Protect your head. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are serious concerns with cycling, mountain climbing, and contact sports. Always wear headgear that is specifically approved for your activity or sport. And if you sustain a blow to the head, don’t resume activity until a concussion has been ruled out.
Get tips on protecting your bones and joints
And remember, before beginning any new exercise or sports routine, you should visit your doctor for a routine physical. For a referral to an El Camino Hospital physician, click here or call 800-216-5556.
This article first appeared in the March 2014 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.