As the weather gets nicer, many more people are including exercise, especially outdoor exercise, as a part of their routine. On the beautiful east coast, you can climb mountains, run, kayak, swim, cycle, and more. With that being said, you are more likely to experience increased frequencies of repetitive overuse injuries in relation to the general increase of activity at this time. In addition, research shows that the risk of unintentional injury can increase up to 5% per degree of ambient temperature. There are certain things to consider when hitting the great outdoors that can significantly reduce your chances of injury this summer.
It is important to remain hydrated while performing both indoor and outdoor activities. Dehydration is a huge risk factor to your health and can lead to injuries. Everyday, water leaves your body through various ways. Therefore, you must replenish your water supply every single day, and make sure you are putting more water in than what is coming out. After all, your body is made up of roughly 70% of water.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggest that each day women get a total of about 2.7 liters (L), or 11 cups, of fluid and men get about 3.7 L (16 cups).
This part of your workout should look very movement based! It is important for the health of your muscle contraction to not OVER stretch your muscles before your use them. Instead, you should use zero-weight or lightly weighted versions of the movements you are going to perform in the bulk of your exercise. For example, a classic warm up before a run may include high-knees, butt kicks, grape vines, walking half lunges, and backwards walking. Activating similar muscles to running beforehand will better prepare your body and reduce risk of injury.
Myofascial Release is a form of physical therapy that focuses on massaging myofascial tissue to release tightness and pain. This is a form of manual therapy, but can also include foam rolling, massage/trigger point guns, and other trigger point hand devices and rollers. Performing at least 5 minutes of myofascial release to aching or over-used body parts can significantly reduce soreness/pain, and trigger point size. Doing this will also improve muscle length and improve active range of motion that will help prevent injury.
It can get dangerously hot this time of year, especially for young children or the elderly. While there is no maximum temperature to be determined to not go outside, it is important to stay up to date on your area's heat index indicator. The National Weather Service offers a chart that shows how each heat index range can affect the body.
While this doesn't mean you can't go outside, it is not a bad idea to decide to take your exercise to the gym on those higher temperature days.
Regardless of where you are, it is important to listen to your body. If you're feeling overheated, find shade or air conditioning if possible. It has also been shown that pouring cold water on the inside of your wrists or ankles will cool you down quickly.
Remembering these things while planning your outdoor summer activities will help decrease the risk of injury. Schedule an appointment with a Renew Physiotherapist for more tips and a personalized plan on how to keep you active and healthy while enjoying the summer heat!
To read more about the risks and benefits of exercising in the heat, read our blog, Running Miles in Rising Heat.