Summer is finally here! The weather is nice, the water is warm and everyone is looking to have a little fun outdoors. Though most of us see summertime as the season to cut loose, sometimes the eagerness to have fun can get the best of us and injuries occur without warning. From sports injuries to yard work accidents, here are some of the most common orthopedic injuries we see in the summer, and tips on how you can help avoid them.
Shoulder injuries are seen year round for several different reasons. However, the sports and activities performed in the summertime can increase your chances of a shoulder injury.
Summer sports such as volleyball, baseball, and even swimming can be detrimental to your shoulders and other joints. Rotator cuff tears, strains, and other pains can occur for a variety of reasons and can eventually lead to shoulder arthritis over time.
Volleyball players are no strangers to shoulder injuries. The repeated arm motions while overhand serving and spiking a volleyball can result in rotator cuff tears if done too often or incorrectly.
Though swimming is considered one of the best and safest ways to exercise, swimmers shoulder is very real! The repeated overhead motion in swimming strokes, such as freestyle and backstroke, can cause painful inflammation in the muscles of the shoulder.
As described in one of our earlier blogs, Softball Pitching Injuries (And How to Prevent Them), throwing sports can lead to rotator cuff or bicep tendon tears. Overuse and poor throwing mechanics tends to be the culprit in this case and if left untreated or unrested, your shoulder is in for a world of hurt.
In Michigan, May through September is the time for pristine lawns, beautiful flowers, and well-trimmed trees. Nevertheless, all that yard maintenance can be damaging to your body if you are not careful.
Reaching and pulling motions to trim branches, shovel mulch, and pull starting lawn equipment can lead to torn muscles and shoulder pain. Most commonly, the repeated motion to pull starting mowers, leaf blowers and chain saws can leave your shoulder sore and possible strains or rotator cuff tears.
Heavy lifting is often the culprit of several orthopedic injuries as well. Moving large pavers, carrying bags of dirt, and picking up heavy wheel barrel handles can injure your shoulder and make continued yard work difficult. Heavy lifting, particularly overhead, can lead to Tendonitis or Shoulder Impingement.
Knee injuries make up the other most commonly injured “big bone” in the body. An array of sports and outdoor activities can lead to a devastating knee injury that will have your legs rested up all summer.
Sports and other activities
Soccer, baseball, and football are all some of the biggest contributors to knee injuries among professional and amateur athletes.
ACL injuries are very common to athletes of contact and high cardio sports. The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) can be torn when the leg becomes too extended (like a football player coming down too hard after a catch) or when the leg becomes twisted (like when a baseball player twists while swinging a bat). These injuries typically require surgery so prevention is key!
MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) injuries are also very common but are more likely to heal on their own. MCL tears and sprains generally occur when the knee collapses inward from an outside hit (like a football tackle) or from other stresses on the knee (like a foot catching the ground while attempting to kick a soccer ball).
While biking, running and skateboarding can be great cardio exercises, they can also have long-term negative impacts on your knees. The repetitive movements and overuse can lead to pulled muscles throughout the leg, pain along the IT Band and cartilage irritation from frequent rubbing. Many of these smaller injuries can develop into arthritis over time. Falls during running and biking accidents also contribute to other pains, like road rash and dislocations.
So, how do we stop many of these injuries from happening while still being able to enjoy our time outside? These tips might seem like no brainers, but they are effective!
- Warming up– loosening up your body before and after any kind of exercise can make all the difference in your performance. You’re far less likely to tear a muscle when your body is prepped for activity and warmed up for movement.
- Proper form– Form is key to any activity. Researching proper stance and form for whichever sport you are playing will help to avoid future injury. If you are unsure what your positioning should look like, consulting a trainer or coach will help.
- R.I.C.E.- This well known acronym should help with injury no matter if shoulder or knee. If you start to feel pain in an area, stop the activity and Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate. Resting gives your body time to heal. Icing and compression will help to reduce swelling and tension. Elevation will not only help with swelling, but will also help to reduce pain and throbbing. Taking an anti-inflammatory medication (with the approval of your physician) will also assist with the healing process and reduce pain.
How can we help?
If you are suffering from an injury and are still experiencing pain after resting your body, consulting an orthopedic specialist is your next step to determine what treatment method is right for you. Sometimes the injury can be resolved with bracing or physical therapy, other times the only course of action is surgery. No matter the treatment, our orthopedic and sports medicine specialists in Auburn Hills and in Warren are here for you!