Happy Summer and Happy Fourth of July! With increasing temperatures, we often see an increase in injuries. Emergency rooms across the country see an increase in fractures, strains, dehydration, and heat exhaustion. Whether you’re hitting the lake, the bike path, maintaining the perfect summer yard or introducing a new sport or activity on vacation, its important to follow some basic steps that can keep you safe and injury free this summer.

Summertime injuries do not play favorites…. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, the heat of a Louisiana Summer can take its toll. Before you celebrate the season, remember these tips to keep you injury free and safe this summer:

  • Drink your water and keep a summertime (slower) pace! Dehydration is no joke! Drinking water, especially while exposed to the summer heat keeps our body temperature normal and keeps your muscles lubricated. As we sweat, your body is depleted of fluids, and you can suffer from muscle cramps. Take breaks often during activity, drink water and allow your body to rest and restore… these breaks will allow you time to enjoy the beautiful views on the lake or admire the garden you’re maintain, while allowing the body time to rehydrate and recharge!
  • SWIM! While swimming is undoubtedly one of the most cherished summer activities worldwide, it also has numerous benefits, especially when it comes to orthopedic health. As swimming is a low-impact activity, it increases joint flexibility and range of motion with a decreased likelihood of injury. Swimming is also the perfect way to beat the heat this summer! By engaging in low-impact activities like swimming, you can effectively reduce your chances of sustaining an orthopedic injury.
  • Southerners love and take great pride in their lawns and landscape and summer seems to be the time when we dig in and take full advantage of the sunny weather. It’s important to take precautions when gardening and caring for your lawn. Make sure to wear protective eyewear, long pants and closed toed shoes when operating power equipment like lawn mowers and keep your hands away from mower blades! Gardening should not be “back breaking.” Protect your knees and your back by using your legs when lifting heavy objects, using a garden stool when planting, opting for raised planters, and using tools with long handles.
  • To prevent overuse injuries, make sure you condition and strength train, so your body can become accustomed to increased levels of outdoor activity. Summer often means swimming, golf, biking and often we want to jump right in and go wild with summer fun. Know you’ll get there but overexerting yourself can mean pain later. Pace yourself, take water breaks often and always stretch prior to exercise. Taking time to stretch before exercise will loosen the muscles, ligaments and joints and reduce the risk of activity-based injuries.
  • Be sweet to your feet! Summertime means flip flops and sandals. Although flip flops may seem like an optimal choice for summer, prolonged wear of them can prevent your feet from getting adequate support. Go ahead and invest in reliable footwear. By wearing shoes that aren’t suited to a particular activity, you can gradually injure different areas of the body, such as the knee, femur, shinbone, or back. When the bones and joints are not properly cushioned to absorb the shock of high-intensity activities, small fractures may form, which can easily lead to a more significant injury. No one wants to miss out on the summer fun, so be sure to use reliable footwear throughout the year, but especially during the summer when activities may involve long periods of standing, walking, or running. Inevitably, in the summer, we are likely going to be treating a sprained ankle, fracture, or severe ligament injury because someone decided to jump and catch a frisbee while wearing flip flops or sandals and the ER will unfortunately see toes and limbs that have suffered the wrath of lawn mowers blades. Moderation is key… limit the flip flops to poolside and wear proper footwear for certain outdoor activities.

All of us at Orthopedic Specialists wish you a safe and injury free summer. Stay active and hydrated and remember to stretch before you decide to hike, bike, or hit the golf course. If muscle and joint pain get you down, remember we’re always here to help.

Andrew Patton, MD is a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana in Shreveport and Bossier City. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Patton, please call (866)759.9679 or visit: orthopedicspecialistsla.com