With outdoor activities, there’s always a risk for summer injuries due to twists, turns, and falls, along with just being more active in the summer. The good news is that these injuries can be easily prevented with a little planning and being even just a little mindful during the activity itself.

So, enjoy the great outdoors without the injuries! This article lists a few suggestions on how best to have an injury free summer.

Physical therapists are licensed professionals and experts in injury prevention and rehabilitation. If you want to make the most out of this summer, it’s time to visit your physical therapist.

A Safe, Fun Summer without Summer Injuries

Here are some tips to ensure a safe, fun and injury-free summer:

Wear the Right Protective Gear

When participating in sports or being out in the sun, it is essential to wear protective gear appropriate to that activity. For example, wearing helmets, gloves, properly fitting shoes and shin pads can prevent injury during summer soccer leagues. Summer pick up basketball games require the right shoes and knee bracing (if you have knee issues). Even going out on the lake after being in the office all winter means you may want to consider a large brim hat and some loose, light clothing to keep from getting a harsh sunburn. Equipment matters.

One of the biggest activities that result in the most preventable accidents in bicycling. The National Safety Council estimates that there are about 1,300 preventable bicycling deaths each year simply because people don’t invest in a quality helmet. And of all months in the year, it’s July and August when there are the most deaths.

Provided by the National Safety Council.

STARS strongly suggests that bicyclists go to a bike store and look for a MIPS qualified bicycle helmet. MIPS technology has crush zones that offer much better protection in a crash that simple padding. The bike company Specialized has an excellent blog article about the MIPS technology and how to size a bike helmet.

Do Stretching Exercises Before You Get Active

Summer presents a tempting opportunity to just jump into several activities. If your muscles are deconditioned from the long winter, it’s important to plan ahead with a stretching and conditioning plan that’s made for your body.

Man stretching before a running with Manhattan in the background.
Stretching before and after an activity is the best way to prevent injury.

Jumping into activity without the right conditioning is a recipe for “weekend warrior syndrome”. That’s a recipe for being laid up and possibly even a doctor visit. To eliminate muscle tears and joint injuries, stretching the muscles and warming them up before and after exercising can help prevent muscle aches and joint pains.

Consult Your STARS Physical Therapist for a Stretching Plan

This is where STARS Physical Therapy shines. Reach out to STARS before you get active to review the current condition of your body and to isolate problem areas that are specific to you. Your STARS physical therapist will then be able to provide a custom plan of stretching exercises to perform before and after participating in any activity. They can also suggest how long you need to condition before getting active to lower your probability of getting seriously hurt.

Use Proper Body Mechanics

Digging in the garden with dirty hands.

It’s important to be careful when using any kind of equipment. For instance, gardening tends to be a popular activity during the summer that includes a lot of equipment use. A gardener will use a wheelbarrow to carry heavy objects, a hoe to weed and shovels to dig up areas of their garden. Using each tool with the proper body mechanics can spell the difference between a great weekend gardening and a Sunday where you’re recovering from a Saturday in your yard.

Again, physical therapy is a great “first tool” to reach out for. Your physical therapist will give you great advice on how to avoid back injuries by teaching you how to use different muscle groups when lifting heavy objects and using hand tools. They can also help you understand where your body is, in terms of fitness, and how you can improve your fitness level to have a more injury free summer.

Strengthen Your Core Muscles Is Key

The core muscles refer to the abdominals and lower back. A strong “core” doesn’t mean washboard abs that are impossible for even most young adults. Having a strong core means having trunk muscles that can support your body’s activity level, whether that’s running, gym workouts, gardening or disc golf. A lack of core strength becomes very noticeable the older you get.

Exercises such as leg raises, crunches, and simple rotational movements can help strengthen the muscles of the back and abdomen. Exercises like this can help prevent injuries. Your physical therapist will provide you with various exercises that can strengthen your core and prevent back, hip, and knee injuries.

How to Have the Best Summer Ever

Don’t let the summer months pass you by because of an injury. Nobody wants to spend the summer stuck in bed because of a preventable injury. Visit your physical therapist before hitting the bike or heading for your next hike to learn about injury prevention this summer.

As your physical therapists, we want you to enjoy the activities you love without hurting yourself. Let us help you plan for a fun and exciting summer.

If you find yourself out of shape or in pain after a long winter’s rest, reach out to your local STARS Physical Therapy clinic. We’ll help your body prepare for a fabulous summer.