The unpredictable Georgia weather in December can force you to choose a form of exercise that can not be dependent upon the weather. Indoor workout machines such as treadmills, stationary cycles and rowing machines are all options often chosen to combat the harsh outdoor conditions for your workout.
This is also the time of year for sports injuries, as we begin to shake off winter stiffness and get back in the game.
As you get back into the Spring sports groove, though, be mindful of these common warm-weather athletic injuries.
Little League elbow. Little league elbow is an overuse injury common in baseball, and occurs as a result of repeated stress while throwing, catching, or pitching. Common signs of little league elbow include aching, sharp pain, a pop at the site of injury, and swelling on the inside of the elbow. This type of injury can also occur at the shoulder.
Tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is an overuse injury common in tennis and other racquet sports. With tennis elbow, the tendons and muscles on the outside of the elbow become inflamed and tender. Common symptoms include a weak grip and pain or a burning sensation on the outside of the elbow.
Sprains and strains. Sprains occur when a ligament, usually in the ankle, knee, or wrist, is stretched or torn. Signs include pain, swelling, bruising, limited ability to move, and a pop at the time of injury. Strains are injuries to muscles or ligaments caused by overuse, overstretching, or blunt force. These commonly happen in the hamstring. Signs include pain, swelling, muscle spasms, and a limited ability to move.
ACL injury. This type of injury occurs when the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament of the knee, gets torn. It's a common injury in soccer, basketball, tennis, football and gymnastics, and symptoms include a pop at the knee, sudden sharp pain, swelling, instability, and an inability to bear weight or straighten the knee.
Concussion. Concussion can be a severe injury that occurs as a result of a blow or sudden jolt to the head. Concussions are often unique to the individual, and no two are necessarily alike. But some general symptoms include headaches or neck pain that doesn't go away, difficulty remembering or concentrating, becoming easily confused, difficulty speaking or thinking, mood changes, trouble sleeping or oversleeping, blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, light-headedness, and ringing in the ears. It's important to remember that these symptoms don't occur right away, and can come on days or even weeks later.
To stay in the game this Spring:
- Stay active and fit off the field. Strong joints, bones, and muscles are much harder to injure, and resistance training off the field is a great way to build strength in athletes of all ages.
- Give yourself time to rest. Many of the injuries mentioned stem from chronic overuse, so it's important to rest the muscles you most commonly use while playing. Don't become completely inactive, just work on other sports or activities that don't require the same movements.
- Work on proper mechanics during practice. Players are less likely to injure themselves when they work on the correct form off the field.
- Warm up properly before taking the field. This helps to loosen stiff muscles and prevent injury.
- Stay hydrated. Water helps prevent muscle cramps and lubricates your joints, reducing the chances of your getting injured. Water also helps carry vital nutrients throughout your body as you play.
- Wear proper safety equipment for your sport. This is especially critical in contact sports to help prevent against traumatic injuries like concussion.
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