Summer is here, and it feels like the perfect time to get outside and play! And here in Vancouver, there’s an endless number of opportunities to hike, bike, paddle or do whatever your favorite sport happens to be. With the good weather and increased activity, also comes an increase in activity-related injuries. Needless to say, at BodaHealth, we want you to stay safe and healthy as much as you do. As a way to keep you on the trails, roads, water or tennis court, here are our best tips for avoiding athletic injuries:
1) Start slowly and stay flexible. Walk a little before you set off on your run or stretch your lower back and shoulders before you head out in your kayak. You get the idea—the more prepared your body is to be active, the less likely you’ll be to pull a muscle or turn an ankle.
2) Use the right equipment for your activity, especially safety equipment. In addition, make sure the equipment that you use fits well. An ill-fitting bike seat, an expired helmet, the wrong footwear for your sport or a poorly adjusted backpack can, over time, be the cause of an injury.
3) Be prepared for the weather. This includes dressing in layers if you’re going into the mountains, wearing clothes that wick moisture away from your body if you’re active in the heat and being prepared if the weather is wet as a way to avoid hypothermia. Merino wool is my best friend!
4) Hydrate! If you’re moving, chances are that you’re sweating. And if you’re sweating, your body is losing water and salt. Dehydration can cause electrolyte imbalances, muscle cramps and headaches. Make sure you have water with you and drink plenty of it. And don’t forget to bring a snack!
5) Keep in touch with your body’s signals. Cramping, muscle pain or extreme fatigue are signs that you’re overdoing it. In addition, if you’re feeling pain from a repetitive motion, stop. Trying to push through extreme pain just to finish an event or a workout can be a recipe for an injury than can sideline you for weeks or months to come.
6) Go for it…but slowly. I know the feeling; you’ve just gotten a new piece of equipment or discovered a new trail or sport, and you want to do it all day every day. A little restraint will keep you healthier until your body catches up with your enthusiasm. Aim for increasing the time in your activity slowly, about 10% a week. You’ll get to where you want to be and stay healthy!
7) Mix it up to avoid overuse injuries. Bike one day, hike the next. Or paddle today and take a yoga class tomorrow. You get the idea. Your body will thank you.
8) Make time to recover. While you may feel like going all out every day, your body heals and regenerates during rest—it needs the rest so you can recover and keep going. Plan for a day off or an easy day once or twice a week; it will actually make you stronger.
Even when you’re playing by all the injury prevention rules, the reality is that sometimes injuries happen. At BodaHealth, our practitioners are experienced in treating people with sports injuries, such as muscle pulls, shin splints, elbow pain, tendonopathies, runner’s knee, shoulder and rotator cuff pain and concussions. We offer a variety of treatment options, including acupuncture, therapeutic massage, cold laser therapy, shock wave and therapeutic exercises to help you get back to your sport as quickly as possible. In addition, our exercise physiologist can work with you to address muscle imbalances and build strength to prevent future injuries.
We hope you stay safe and injury-free this summer, but if you do happen to become injured, we’re here to help. Call us to find out how we can get you back to your active lifestyle as soon as possible.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.