How to Prevent Injuries from Outdoor Activity
Ahh, the sun’s out, the air is warm… Time to get to work. Where to begin — picking up the loose branches knocked down by the harsh winter or starting to run again?
Or — OR — all that busywork can wait. After all, when was the last time you played catch with the kids?
No matter what you decide, it’s important to consider the likelihood of injuring yourself. While it may seem like a bit of a damper on your fun — or work — both sports and physical work can result in similar injuries and ailments.
So, to minimize your risk of injury, make sure you understand what steps to take before heading out.
Sports, chores and really any physical activity can result in some common injuries that can range from minor annoyances to major surgery.
- Sprains and strains: These are among the most common injuries sustained during outdoor activity. Though similar, sprains result from overstretching or tearing ligaments — the tissue that connects bones and cartilages or holds a joint together — while strains are caused by overstretching or tearing tendons, the tissue that connects muscles to bones.
- Knee injuries: Another common ailment resulting from any rigorous activity, knee injuries are anything that inhibits the motion and function of the knee joint. This includes injuries to the meniscus, ACL and PCL, all of which could require surgery in extreme cases.
- Swollen muscles: Also known as delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS), swollen muscles are very common and occur when your muscles are introduced to some form of strenuous activity beyond what your body is accustomed to. Though completely normal, DOMS can result in more serious injuries if not allowed to heal properly.
- Achilles tendon rupture: Connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone, the Achilles tendon can rupture under enough stress, resulting in extreme pain and making walking more difficult. Achilles tendon ruptures may be treated with casting or surgery.
- Fractures: Broken bones can result from extreme trauma to your body, though stress fractures can occur without physical trauma.
- Dislocation: This occurs when a joint becomes separated due to trauma, such as an impact or a fall.
- Rotator cuff injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and allow the shoulder to move. A tear to any of these muscles and tendons make use of the shoulder painful or even impossible.
How to prevent injuries
Before engaging in any strenuous activity such as chores or sports, prepare your muscles through stretching. This allows your muscles to warm up and get loose, minimizing the chances of them becoming overstressed. Though you may not think to stretch before cleaning your garage or mowing your lawn, a surprising number of injuries can be prevented by stretching.
Secondly, always use the proper equipment needed to complete a task or play a sport. Don’t improvise — if you don’t have the right equipment yet, just wait until you do. You should also perform the task using the proper techniques. Don’t take shortcuts or put too much stress on your body. Also, never be afraid to ask for any assistance from a friend, family member or neighbor.
Finally, don’t overdo it. If something hurts, stop. The saying “no pain, no gain” is a misconception. Pain is your body telling you something is wrong — listen to it. Trying to work or play through pain is a nearly guaranteed way to cause more harm to your body. Stop and take a breather if you start to feel exhausted.
Need to make an appointment?
Dr. Drake White specializes in orthopedic medicine and sees patients from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Rushville Outpatient Specialty Clinic, 238 S. Congress St. To schedule an appointment with him, call (217) 357-8500. If you have other medical concerns and need to see a provider, our team is here to help. Contact us and schedule a general appointment today.