After being blessed with good weather and with summer in full swing, more and more people have started to turn to outdoor sports as a healthy and fun escape from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Especially considering that the virus can more easily spread in close quarters, outdoor runs, tennis matches, bicycle tours and pool sports have become an even more indispensable part of our daily activities.
But, of course, there are some rules that you should consider when playing sports or exercising outdoors in the summer heat, as the mistakes we ignore can lead to extremely pressing health problems – from tendon injuries and fractures to herniated discs and meniscus tears, and even dislocated shoulders as well as sprained knees and ankles.
Orthopedics and traumatology specialist Dr. Mehmet E. Erdil from Acıbadem Maslak Hospital says there are two main important rules we should stick to when exercising in summer, which can be boiled down to these two categories: pre-sports preparation and maintaining fluid balance.
“In summer, our body loses more fluid due to the hot air and humidity. Our muscles also get tired quicker and get injured more easily. While playing sports, we should increase our fluid intake and adequately prepare our muscles with warm-up exercises before doing sports,” Erdil said, stressing that, in general, there were six mistakes he saw people make while working out in the summer.
Mistake No. 1: Not drinking enough water
Due to the heat and high humidity, our body loses water much quicker and in larger amounts than in winter. Playing sports also brings along an additional loss of fluid, which means that our bodies' fluid-mineral balance can be easily disrupted. Our muscles are the most easily affected by this balance. Therefore, as a result of losing vital minerals and not having enough water, we may experience cramps, muscle injuries, tendon ruptures and even cardiac issues.
The key thing to look out for is to exercise when the sun is not the most powerful, so either early in the morning or in the evening. Also, taking frequent breaks and drinking plenty of fluids is vital. The average human being should be consuming about 2 liters of water every day, no matter the season. However, when it comes to outdoor sports, as a lot of fluid is lost from all the sweating, this amount should be increased about 3 liters or more, in accordance with the intensity of the activity. Erdil said instead of chugging this amount all at once, it is better to drink gradually and frequently.
“When we feel thirst, we should definitely take a water break,” he stressed.
Mistake No. 2: Choosing the wrong shoes and equipment
Whatever exercise you choose to do, your choice of shoes should always be sneakers specifically designed for exercising. In fact, as summer sports are more outdoorsy in nature, injuries and accidents caused by the ground or surface you are working out on are much more prevalent, Erdil said.
“Exercising with unsuitable shoes on an unsuitable floor leaves us wide open for injuries. Ankle sprains and ligament injuries in the knee are the most common type of injury we experience in summer and they are attributable to choosing the wrong kind of shoe. That's why it is important to buy shoes specific to the sport you'll be doing and after learning your foot type (high-arched, flat-footed etc.)," he said.
ore care should also be taken when working out on non-standard floors because sports shoes and sneakers are manufactured in accordance with standard floors, so the stability of the shoes can be impaired on wet or dusty floors.
"As a result, you can lose your footing or sprain your ankle. Similarly, equipment such as tennis rackets, golf clubs, gloves and paddles used in outdoor sports should be appropriate for the level of professionalism in the sport and the planned activity. Otherwise, shoulder tendon and cartilage injuries and wrist ligament injuries can occur,” he said.
Mistake No. 3: Exercising too hard after periods of inactivity
Yes, a lot of us are trying to shed the quarantine pounds and want to do it as soon as possible. But after not exercising for a long time, pushing our muscles too much and too suddenly to hasten the weight loss process will only cause muscle and tendon tears and ruptures, Erdil said.
“Especially in the middle-aged population, overloading muscles at once significantly increases the risk of existing muscle and tendon injuries," he said.
Sticking to a program and gradually increasing the intensity and duration of the activity, as well as doing stretching exercises for at least 15 minutes before working out will help protect you from possible injuries, he added.
Mistake No. 4: Not paying attention to slippery floors
Moving fast and running on slippery ground or carelessness while jumping into the pool to get into the water as soon as possible can cause sprained ankles and knees and even cause fractures if one falls. Paying extra attention to our movements on slippery floors can protect us from such mishaps.
Mistake No. 5: Jumping into the water headfirst
When it comes to summer, we first think of the pool and the sea. Although swimming is one of the most joint-friendly sports and is very useful for rehabilitation in general, jumping into shallow waters headfirst or jumping from high places can cause serious problems, such as neck or spinal injuries and fractures, which can even lead to life-threatening situations. Therefore, jumping from places that are not too high in accordance with the technique, as well as checking the depth of the water you will jump into are very important to prevent such injuries.
Mistake No. 6: Pushing your limits too much
Engaging in activities such as beach volleyball and tennis, the most popular sports of summer by far, bar swimming, can result in shoulder dislocation if you are not properly warmed up or you push yourself too hard. Erdil warned that if this keeps happening, it might cause lasting cartilage damage that may require surgical treatment in the future.
For this reason, when doing outdoor sports, when overhead movements are more frequent, we must allocate enough time to stretch and warm-up before starting training or play a match, he noted.
“Being careful about possible falls, checking the ground before doing sports that involve a lot of jumping, and doing the activities in accordance with their techniques and without pushing our own limits too much will prevent such traumatic shoulder dislocations,” he added.
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