A gorgeous April evening stroll in Lakes Park (in Fort Myers, Florida). Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II.
Participation in sports have long been recognized as an effective way to stay in shape, and a great start on the road to a healthy lifestyle.
However, organized sports and individual activities can also sometimes result in injury.
The American College of Sports Medicine has identified the most common sporting activities leading to injury, more specifically, heat-injuries.
Individual activities, such as running may also lead to a range of injuries while rollerblading and skateboarding spearhead the way in injury-causing culprits among children.
Of additional concern is the research warning that people who experience sports injuries (especially children) are at a higher risk of suffering from re-injury later.
Therefore, it’s important to take some sensible precautions to avoid injury in the first place.
Here are some practical tips for getting the most out of your fitness program or sport while preventing injury:
AVOIDING DEHYDRATION AND OVERHEATING -
Whatever sport you play, it is essential to maintain your fluid levels to avoid dehydration. If you become dehydrated you’ll not be able to regulate your body temperature as effectively, which means that you’ll risk overheating (hyperthermia).
Dehydration will also adversely affect your performance, as your blood volume will be reduced and you’ll be less able to deliver oxygen to your working muscles.
It is best to start activity well hydrated.
You can access your hydration level by your urine color. Urine should be clear and not concentrated.
Drink before and during activity.
Continuing to drink after you have finished will ensure that weight lost through fluid depletion/sweat is replaced.
For events lasting over an hour, it is appropriate to drink approximately 20oz of fluid an hour, and this fluid should contain electrolytes.
ACCLIMATIZE TO THE CONDITIONS -
Try to be acclimatized to the area and conditions where you participate in physical activities. This helps to ensure your body is equipped to handle the conditions.
For example, you may be particularly vulnerable to the heat at the start of summer when you’re not used to it.
Your body can adapt to exercising in warm conditions, making you more able to cope with the heat, but this takes a few weeks.
One of the ways it does this is to get you to start sweating sooner.
This means that even when you are fully acclimatized, it is important to drink enough to avoid dehydration.
USE SUN PROTECTION -
If you are outdoors, remember to use adequate sun protection, including wearing a hat and using sunscreen, and try to avoid scheduling activities between 10am and 2 pm, the hottest part of the day.
WEAR APPROPRIATE CLOTHING -
There is no benefit to exercising when you are dehydrated or have hyperthermia.
So always wear appropriate clothing, which should be light and permits your sweat to evaporate freely.
Sweat only cools you when it evaporates off your body.
Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist and Tony Robbins Results Coach from Fort Myers, Florida. She also is a Corrective Biomechanics Specialist, USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach, has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification, and a PhD in results!