This week brings the official start of summer, and that means we’ll all be spending more time outdoors swimming, biking, and generally getting active in the warm weather. Now, coming after months of school and work, the outdoor activity will be a welcome break. But it could also pose a risk for summer sports injuries, since your muscles may have lost strength and flexibility in winter and spring. Want to stay safe and enjoy your summer break? Check out the most common types of summer sports injuries, and learn your Powder Springs podiatrist’s top tips for protecting yourself.

Top 3 Summer Sports Injuries A couple enjoying a run outdoors in the sunshine

Which injuries are most likely to ruin your summer fun?

1.    A sprain or strain of your foot or ankle.

While running around on sand, turf, and trails, you may sustain a sprain or strain injury. (A strain impacts your muscles or tendons, while a sprain involves your ligaments.)

2. Overuse injuries

This type of summer sports injury develops when you subject one part of your body to repetitive stress. Often, it's an injury sustained by runners and athletes who don't take training breaks. Common examples include Achilles tendonitis, shin splints or even stress fractures.

3. Broken bones

Trips and falls in the midst of summer fun can often lead to broken bones. If you sustain a stable fracture, you could be facing four to six weeks of casting or immobilization. But if that fracture is open or displaced? Now you're talking a much longer recovery period, along with the likely possibility of surgery. Want to prevent these outcomes? Here are our top tips for preventing summer sports injuries.

Preventing Summer Sports Injuries

If you want to steer clear of broken bones, strains and sprains, and seasonal overuse injuries, here's what you need to do:

1. Ease into new activities

If you've been inactive for a little while, don't jump off the couch and into a weekly soccer match. Instead, start off with a little bit of daily activity and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your physical movement. This method will allow your muscles to gradually adjust to new challenges so that, as you push yourself harder, they'll be ready to provide you with support. (And won't fall victim to injury.)

2. Engage in before and aftercare

Prior to getting active, or after completing an energetic activity, make sure to stretch your body. But don't just stand in one place: instead, engage in dynamic stretches (performed while you move) since these get the blood moving, further helping your muscles prepare for or recover from your activities.

3. Always wear the right gear (and pay careful attention to those shoes!)

Whether you're hitting the hiking trails, riding a bike, or jumping into a Pickleball tournament, wearing shoes designed for the activity can help you prevent summer sports injuries. Furthermore, you must ensure that your shoes actually fit your feet. And, for that to happen, you should shop for your shoes in person; get your feet measured; and make sure there's just enough room at the end of the shoe for your toes to wiggle, without allowing your feet to slip and slide inside the shoes.

4. Don't focus too much on one form of activity

Instead of spending every day of the summer going for a run, try to mix up your activities with some cross-training. Doing so will allow you to avoid overworking certain muscle groups. And, if you include weight-bearing activities in your cross-training, you'll get an added bonus: stronger muscles that are better able to withstand the wear and tear of your other favorite summer pastimes.

5. Make time to rest

Remember, it's called summer break for a be sure to take some! Even if you're cross-training, try and build some rest days into your summer workout schedule. Or, if you must engage in exercise every day, at least try to devote some days to lower-impact activities such as swimming, since they'll take a load off of your feet, toes, and ankles.

Finally, to generally protect yourself from injuries and other summer mishaps, make sure to focus on proper hydration this summer, drinking at least 8 glasses of liquid a day. (More if the weather is extra hot or if you've worked up a sweat.) And don't forget to pay attention to your diet, too: in between all those ice cream cones and popsicles, try to eat a balanced diet including plenty of lean protein, fruits, and veggies. That way, if you do end up dealing with a summer sports injury, your body will be better prepared for healing.

Recovering from Summer Sports Injuries the Right Way

Now, in case you do find yourself dealing with a foot or ankle injury this summer, it's important to follow these steps to prevent your pain from worsening. At the first sign of a potential sprain or strain, get off your foot or ankle and engage in RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.) For minor injuries, this protocol should see your pain improving within a day or two. But if you don't start feeling better after that, it's time to call the office at 770-727-0614 and request an appointment. (Or click here for online scheduling and support.)

However, if you experience sharp pain at any point, or if you suspect you may have sustained a fracture, don't waste a day or two at home with an ice pack. Instead, come into the office right away for a comprehensive exam. When you see Dr. Alvin Cowans, he can provide you with x-rays to get an accurate injury diagnosis. And, once we know what kind of summer sports injury you're dealing with, he can provide an appropriate treatment plan to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.



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