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Living Easy, Avoiding Injury

Four tips for keeping active all summer

“Summertime,
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high”When these lyrics were written, summer living was indeed easy. In pre–air–conditioning 1935, people slowed down for summer. Fast-forward 74 years and summer is fun, but not necessarily relaxing. We golf. We waterski, swim, boat. Jog, bike, hike, play pickup baseball. Carry picnic coolers. Haul compost. Play tennis. Then, we get hurt.

What causes summer injuries?
Many adults are fairly sedentary during the winter. When summer comes, they dive into a full pool of activities. Suddenly, they are swinging, lifting, jumping, reaching in ways they haven’t since the previous August. Children, who are active during the year, get summer injuries when they overspecialize. Camps and clinics that focus on one favorite activity all day for a week or weeks at a time are dangerous for children in the growth spurt years.

How to avoid summer injuries
It’s very simple to avoid summer injuries, but also surprisingly hard. Here are four things you can do:

Alternate activity and rest. After strenuous exercise, your body needs time to recover and rest the tissues. You know that. But faced with 14 days straight of glorious summer weather, the temptation to overdo it on the golf course or in the garden or on the ball field is strong. That’s when you should take a break. Take a day off, even if it’s not raining.

Drink water. No one expects to get dehydrated. But it’s very common in summer, for both children and adults. You need water to avoid injuries to your muscles and tendons and also to regulate your body temperature. Old and young alike should drink water. In hot weather, you should drink 16 ounces of water 15 to 30 minutes before exercising. While exercising, drink small amounts of water frequently.

Wear sensible shoes. This doesn’t mean “ugly” shoes but rather shoes appropriate for the activity. Flip flops are fine to wear to dinner. They’re not fine for errands and gardening.

Stop if you feel pain. That’s stop – s, t, o, p – stop. This is difficult when you’re having fun. You might think, “Oh, it’s just a little twinge,” or “I’m sure that will feel better in the morning”. But pain is a protective mechanism. Even if it’s just five more holes or one more match, stop.

Best approach to summer injuries: Prevention
The best way to deal with summer injuries is not to get them. Stretch before activities. Take a break. Drink water. Wear the right shoes. Stop the minute you feel pain. Then, you can have fun in the sun, from today all the way through summer to Labor Day.

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