5 Tips for Preventing Summertime Sports Injuries

A List of User-Friendly Guidelines Compiled by the Chair of Our Physical Therapy Department

July 22, 2015
Shoulder strengthening can help prevent muscle strain associated with explosive physical motions in softball.

Summer is, of course, a great time to get outside and exercise, whether you are taking your indoor workout outdoors, or learning a new outdoor sport. To help prevent injuries commonly experienced by warm-weather fitness enthusiasts, Jill Horbacewicz, Chair of the Physical Therapy Department at the School of Health Sciences, has compiled a list of user-friendly guidelines. 

Softball- This sport requires explosive types of motions to quickly run the bases. It also requires flexible muscles to stretch out and make that catch. Lastly, it requires strong arm muscles to make the throw. Warming up before playing will help prevent muscle strains and sprains, and supplementing your game with some shoulder strengthening workouts at the gym will help prevent injury.

Bicycling- Bicycling is a great way to get exercise while avoiding a lot of jarring forces on the legs. The most important safety concern with riding is the risk of brain injury and concussion. Always wear a helmet. Head injuries can occur even if you fall off your bicycle in your driveway. 

Trampoline- To reduce the risk of injury when using trampolines, always enforce the “one-person-at-a-time” rule. Avoid high-risk tricks like somersaults that increase the risk of neck injuries, which can lead to paralysis. Always have a safety enclosure so no one falls off the edge and be aware that the unstable surface will require a lot of stability from your ankles to prevent them from being sprained.

Basketball- Basketball involves a lot of quick changes in direction which increases the demands on the muscles and also on the ligaments that help to support the knees and ankles. Wearing high top sneakers will help provide some external ankle support. Basketball also involves a great deal of jumping which requires strong leg muscles, especially the quadriceps. Workouts at the gym should supplement this sport and include some plyometrics and cutting and jumping drills. 

Golf- Swinging a golf club involves a great deal of spinal rotation. Players should maintain or increase their spinal flexibility with gentle stretching before playing around. Good form will also reduce the risk of back pain and injury and a lesson from an expert is a good idea before beginning the season. 

Note: One of the more common causes of injury is the classic ‘Weekend Warrior’ syndrome. Being sedentary all week long and then becoming incredibly (and excessively!) active when the weekend comes may be a recipe for disaster. If you haven’t been keeping up with an activity all winter long, don’t just jump right in. You need to slowly get up to speed and allow your body to acclimate to the demands you are placing on it. Older athletes are especially vulnerable. As we age, tendons cannot attenuate stress as well, so when demanding a great deal of strength production and/or a lengthening of the muscle at the same time, injuries such as strains, tendinitis, and even tendon ruptures may occur. Warming up the muscles and stretching before an activity is helpful to prevent injury.

 More Tips for a safe and happy summer: 

  • Stay active all year round and avoid being a “weekend warrior”
  • Warm up before physical activity
  • Try and supplement your activity with exercises aimed at sport specific demands
  • Wear the appropriate gear. Whether it’s a helmet, the right shoes, protective padding etc. it will reduce the risk of injury
  • Don’t play if you are very tired. Chances of injury are much greater when there is fatigue