young 20 something woman and man stretch on grass to warm up before exercise

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Warm up for summer outdoor activities to avoid orthopedic injuries

  • Warm ups raise muscle temperature and prepare your body for physical activity.
  • Stretches improve your blood circulation and increase flexibility.
  • Don’t play through pain. Listen to your body, stop the activity, and consult your doctor.

After a year of pandemic quarantine, spring and summer is a great time to get back into an active, outdoor life. Whether you’re trying a trendy new activity like pickleball, enjoying a childhood favorite like hopping on your bike, or working on a healthier lifestyle by growing a garden, a lack of conditioning can lead to sore muscles and joints, and sometimes a more serious orthopedic injury. That’s why it’s important to start out slow and incorporate stretching into all of your summer outdoor activities.

Avoid orthopedic and sports injuries 

As tempting as warmer summer weather can be, jumping immediately into physical activity after being sedentary for months can be dangerous. Avoid orthopedic injuries by including a warm up and stretching before, and sometimes after, any outdoor activity or sport.

Common injuries include: 

ACL injury – your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the four main knee ligaments that connect your thigh and shin. A tear in your ACL is common to people who play sports with sudden changes in direction such as soccer and basketball. 

Concussion – a brain injury caused by a sudden impact to your head. While we often think of sports such as football as a common cause of concussions, even low impact sports like baseball and softball can result in a concussion. Stop the activity and seek medical care immediately if you suspect you have had a concussion. ImPACT concussion testing is available to help figure out when it’s safe to return to activity.

Shin splints – inflammation and pain in the muscles, tendons and tissue in your shin. Shin splints happen most often in the inner portion of your shin. Shin splints are common to dancers, runners and gymnasts and people who participate in activities that are high impact and repetitive.

Sprains – a sprain is an injury to a ligament. A minor sprain happens if a ligament is stretched. A major sprain happens when your ligament is torn or ruptured. Sprains are common in activities that use your shoulder, knee, ankle, elbow and hands.

Strains – a strain is an injury to a muscle and are common in your legs (hamstring, quadriceps, calf), groin, shoulder (rotator cuff) and low back.

Tennis elbow – swelling and pain in the tendons caused by overuse. It is common in sports such as golf, tennis and pickleball. Also known as tendonitis, tendonitis often affects the elbow, wrist and hands.

Ways to avoid common sports and orthopedic injury:

  • Know the rules of your chosen sport or activity and use proper techniques. In addition to avoiding an injury you’ll also become better at pickleball or whatever sport or activity you do.
  • Stretch and warm up. Warm ups raise muscle temperature and prepare your body for physical activity. Stretches improve your blood circulation and increase flexibility.
  • Use the proper equipment such as bike helmets, running shoes, and knee and wrist pads.
  • Drink plenty of water or sports drinks. Moving makes you sweat and lose fluids. Drinking water or sports drinks will help your heart pump blood more easily and keep your muscles working well.
  • Take breaks and know your limits. Check with your doctor before taking up a new sport or activity, especially if you have a health condition such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes.
  • Do not play through pain. If you already have mild pain or an injury, listen to your body, stop the activity, and consult your doctor before starting up again.

Treatment for an orthopedic or sports injury

So, you’ve warmed up, followed the rules, used the right equipment and still get an injury? For minor sprains, strains and pain follow the RICE treatment: Rest, Icing, Compression and Elevation. You can also try taking an over-the-counter pain medication.

If your injury is severe or home treatment is not helping, consult your doctor.

Allina Health urgent cares and orthopedic clinics are located throughout the Twin Cities. Our expert health care providers will get you moving again. For an Allina Health Orthopedics same day appointment call 952-946-9777.

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