Summer is a time for fun in the sun, but with increased activity and the additional sun, it can also be hard on your joints. The heat and humidity can cause inflammation and pain, which can make it difficult to enjoy your summer activities. Don’t let joint pain keep you on the sidelines this summer!
Keep Your Joints Healthy and Safe
- Warm-up and cool-down: Before jumping into physical activities, take the time to stretch and warm up your muscles and joints. Remember to stretch afterward as part of your cool-down routine to help prevent joint injuries and muscle tears.
- Prepare for increased activity: To prevent overuse injuries, condition and strength train your body so it can become accustomed to increased levels of outdoor activity. Strength training enables better support of the joints. Even a little more strength makes a difference.
- Be mindful of posture: Standing and sitting up straight protects your joints from your neck to your knees. Good posture also helps guard hip joints and back muscles whereas poor posture puts more stress on the joints. An easy way to improve posture is by walking. The faster you go, the harder your muscles work to keep you upright. Swimming can help with posture as well.
- Safety first: Preparing your body with some padding is important when you perform activities like in-line skating or playing contact sports. If your joints already ache, it might help to wear braces when you play tennis or golf.
- Drink plenty of water: Water not only keeps body temperature normal, but it also keeps muscles and joints lubricated. When you sweat, your body is depleted of fluids, which can cause cramping. Although the right amount of water for your body depends on several factors, such as age and weight, the U.S. National Research Council recommends eight to ten 8-ounce glasses a day.
- Take frequent breaks during activity: This allows your mind and body to rest and restore, avoiding burnout and potential injury.
- Treat joint injuries: Left untreated, injuries can lead to a breakdown of cartilage in your joints. If you get hurt, see your doctor right away for treatment. Then take steps to avoid additional damage. Your physician may recommend that you forego activities that put too much stress on your joint, or use a brace to keep it stable.
Other Summer Safety Tips
- Protect your skin: Use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or higher when going outdoors, especially for prolonged periods of time, even on cloudy or hazy days. When outdoors, protect your skin from damage by wearing hats or sunglasses, and stay indoors during extreme heat.
- Wear proper clothing: Try to wear loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics like cotton and dress in light colors that will reflect the sun and heat instead of darker colors that will attract them.
- Swim safely: If you are near a body of water or just enjoying the splash pad, make sure you are following proper guidelines and are aware of your surroundings.
- Wear helmets: If you are biking or participating in other road sports, always wear a helmet, follow the rules of the road, and be aware of your surroundings.
Follow these tips to enjoy a healthy and active summer while keeping your joints safe! If you experience an injury or have questions, give your primary physician a call. If your injury or question is orthopedic-related, give Dr. Larson a call at 435-774-8512.