School is out, vacations are planned, and you are ready to kick back and relax in the summertime sun. Unfortunately, many summer plans are sidelined when an injury occurs. Hospitals see an average of 25 to 30% more traumatic injuries this time of year. The majority of them are from collisions and falls, or overusing muscles and joints in activities like baseball or running. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests these tips to keep you safe and injury-free this summer: 

Biking Safety

Broken collarbones and wrists are among the top bicycling injuries seen by orthopaedic surgeons in the summertime. To stay safe on the road: 

  • Wear a helmet to significantly decrease your risk of skull fractures or brain injury. When buying a helmet, it should be:
  • >Snug—It should not slide from side-to-side or front-to-back.
  • Level—It should be square on the top of your head, covering the top of your forehead and not tilt in any direction.
  • Stable—The chinstrap should help keep the helmet from rocking in any direction and should be replaced if any part of the buckle breaks.
  • When buying a helmet for your child, choose one that fits her now, not one to grow into. Likewise, purchase a new helmet if the one you are using becomes too small.
  • Follow the rules of the road and ride defensively. Do not assume that drivers see you.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing to stay visible.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions when on your bike. This includes not listening to loud music or talking on your phone when biking.
  • Change positions often to avoid overusing muscles.

Diving Safety

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 26,000 diving-related injuries are seen in emergency rooms each year. Of these, about 800 people, mostly teens and young adult males, break their necks and become paralyzed after diving into water that is too shallow. Remember these tips before diving: 

  • Dive one person at a time.
  • Never dive into shallow water, unclear water, or into an above-ground pool.
  • Always check water depth before diving. When unsure of the depth, enter the water feet first.
  • When diving from an elevated area, the bottom of the body of water should be twice the distance from which you are diving.
  • Be careful on the diving board. Avoid bouncing more than once, and do so at the end of the board. After diving, always swim away from the board as quickly as possible.
  • Do not drink alcohol prior to diving. Alcohol affects your balance, coordination, and judgment.

Playground Safety

Playgrounds are a natural destination when the weather is warm, but they also are the site of thousands of fall injuries each year. Many include fractures to the hands, wrists, and arms. To help avoid a broken bone: 

  • Teach children to fall on their forearms and roll instead of sticking their arms straight out to stop their fall.
  • Look for playgrounds that use rubber or wood chips for ground cover, which are more forgiving than concrete and grass.
  • Be on the lookout for any broken equipment.

Organized and Recreational Sports Safety

Many orthopedic injuries occur when an athlete pushes his or her body past its limits, overusing muscles, tendons, and joints. The result ranges from common sprains to torn cartilage to damaged anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs). Before jumping back into action, remember to: 

  • Train in the off-season to maintain your conditioning, strength, and skills. Weekend warriors who are not in peak physical shape risk joint pain, torn ligaments, or broken bones, when their body is not prepared to play a sport.
  • Always take the time to stretch properly and warm up before playing, as well as cool down after exercising.
  • Avoid overuse injuries like tendonitis and bursitis by easing back into a sport and being aware of going overboard. Baseball and softball players are especially prone to overusing their shoulders and arms when pitching or swinging the bat, and golfer’s elbow is at an all-time high in the summer.
  • Wear proper padding when doing activities like skateboarding.
  • Cross-train, alternate sports, or take a few days off between games. This is especially crucial for young athletes, who may overtrain with the hope of gaining a competitive edge.

Trampoline Safety

Jumping on a trampoline can be great fun, but the thrill ends quickly with a bruise, sprain, or fracture. Worse, a bad fall or awkward landing on the head or neck could result in paralysis or even death. Use these tips to preserve the fun and keep everyone injury-free in the process: 

*   Allow only one person to jump at a time.
*   Use a trampoline with a net to lessen the chance of falling.
*   Place the trampoline on a softer surface, like grass.
*   Make sure the trampoline is secure.
*   Routinely inspect the trampoline for any damage to the springs, bars, or mat that could pose a danger.
*   Prohibit somersaults and other risky actions that raise the risk of injury.

 Ladder Safety

Cleaning the gutters, painting, and trimming trees take many people up a ladder during the summer, but climbing onto one can be one of the most dangerous activities that people do if they do not take the proper precautions. To avoid injury: 

  • Make sure you have the balance and strength to use a ladder.
  • Take the time to secure it properly.
  • Do not stand above the marked level.
  • Always wear lace-up shoes or boots to help prevent slipping.

Dr. Abdurrahman Kandil is available for diagnosis and treatment of summer (and any other) injuries as well as suggestions for keeping it safe during the summertime. To schedule an appointment, call the office at (703) 665-2720 or click the button to schedule an appointment online.

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