Once upon a time, starting a new exercise or activity was no big deal. Well, as long as you had the motivation and the proper gear to do so. But after you reach a certain age, and you’ve suffered one too many pulled muscles or unexpected injuries, you learn that jumping into a new exercise isn’t quite that simple.
However, just because it takes a little extra time and preparation to start a new activity the right—and safe way—doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try something different.
After all, who can resist a little friendly competition with a round of golf or an invigorating mountain hike in the refreshing summer weather? So to help you make the most of the summer months, Adam Cochran, MD, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Gwinnett Medical Center, offers key insights and helpful tips on some of the season’s most popular activities.
Swimming: When its summer and you live in Georgia, there’s really only one place to be in the midst of a hot, humid day: in a cool body of water. While it seems harmless enough to just put on your swimsuit—and sun protection—and relax the day away, there may be hidden dangers you’re overlooking.
“For instance, jumping into the pool, showing off those swim strokes or playing games in the water can all be tough on your body,” says Dr. Cochran. Some of the most common sports-related injuries include:
- Irritation and inflammation of the shoulder: pain and swelling, stiffness and loss of mobility
- Lower back muscle strain: pain and stiffness that worsens when moving or bending
- Jumping-related injuries: ranging from joint sprains to traumatic brain injury, paralysis or, in rare cases, death
Remember these simple tips to stay safe while swimming:
- Even if you don’t feel tired, take breaks every hour so that your body, namely your joints and muscles, can rest.
- Look around at signage to see pool depth, pool rules and locate safety equipment.
- Never leave children unattended, even if there is a lifeguard present.
- Come prepared with water and healthy snacks to keep up energy and prevent dehydration.
Golfing: Even if you don’t consider yourself one of 60 million routine golfers, the lush green courses and 2+ hours spent outdoors in the beautiful weather may be just enough to convince you to finally give it a try.
So whether you’re taking for your first swing of the season or of your life, you’ll want to be sure that you prepare your body for the surprising toll this low-impact sport takes.
“While you may not notice any discomfort in the midst of playing,” explains Dr. Cochran, “spending 4 to 5 hours in a bent position, and making repetitive motions, can cause a number of injuries.” Some of the most common include:
- Back pain: sharp or dull pain concentrated in the lower back
- Elbow tendonitis: pain on the outside of the elbow, forearm and/or wrist
- Meniscal injuries: swelling and sharp pain in the knee, as well as a locking or giving-way sensation
- Patellar tendonitis: pain in the front of the knee
To keep your swing and health in good shape, keep these tips in mind:
- Spend at least 10 minutes warming up and stretching, focusing on your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, spine and pelvis.
- Don’t do a full round of 18 holes on your first outing. Instead, build-up your endurance by starting with practice at the driving range, followed by 9 holes, then 18.
- Opt for a golf cart and/or a bag carrier to avoid the straining of lifting your heavy bag.
Hiking: With the wide variety of trails in Georgia—shaded, creek side routes; hilly, Appalachian trails; and everything in between—there’s a trail to bring out the happy hiker in all of us.
But it isn’t just finding the ideal trail that you have to worry about. Even if you don’t pick a challenging route, be mindful of these common injuries:
- Blisters: irritation and discomfort caused by a bubble filled with clear fluid
- Ankle sprains: swelling, tenderness and bruising
- Muscle cramping: Tightness and pain in the feet, legs and back
Before you start your trailblazing, don’t forget to:
- Pick out shoes that provide ample support, and break them in.
- Bring along a stabilizer, like a hiking stick or trekking polls.
- Wear clothing and socks that are moisture wicking to prevent chaffing and blisters.
- Pack healthy snacks and ample H20.
- Stop along the way to enjoy the scenery and give your body a chance to recharge.
Healthy summers are powered by GMC.
During the summer months, we all tend to focus a little more on fun and a little less on routine things, like health care. But with a wide array of services at GMC Health Park-Hamilton Mill, you can find all of the expert care you need for this season’s most common illnesses and injuries. Summer-proof your health by scheduling an appointment today; you can visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/hmill, or call 678-312-8600.