The sun is out, the birds are singing, and all winter long you have been waiting for the time when you can spend your days outdoors playing sports and having fun. No doubt, summer is one of the most enjoyable times of the year for many people. Before you and your family head outside, though, keep these safety tips in mind to help ensure that your summer is a safe one:
Make sure that both you and your children follow these biking rules of the road:
- Protect your head. Make sure to always wear a helmet that fits properly.
- Check the bike to make sure that the brakes work and the tires are fully inflated.
- Adjust the seat to the proper height.
- Always check for traffic before entering a street or intersection, and ensure your child knows to do the same.
- Walk your bike in a cross walk.
- Bicycles are considered vehicles and must obey the same rules as motorists.
- Know the proper hand signals for left turn, right turn, and stopping.
- Never wear headphones while riding. Headphones block traffic sounds and increase your risk of having an accident.
The most common injuries that occur when riding a scooter, skateboard, or using inline skates are to the wrist, leg, knee, ankle, and elbow. Injuries to the head and face also are far too common and can have serious, and even fatal, consequences. Most of these injuries result from:
- Falling after your wheels hit a stationary object like a rock, stick, pothole, bump in the pavement, or other object.
- Losing your balance.
- Colliding with another skater, cyclist, or pedestrian.
- Losing control, especially when going downhill.
- Hazardous road conditions like sand, loose gravel, oil, or wet pavement.
- Poor visibility.
These tips can help reduce the risk of injuries:
- Use proper protective gear every time you ride—helmet, wrist guards, and elbow and kneepads.
- It can be dangerous to ride or skate in the street. Stay away from cars and other vehicles and only ride on the sidewalk or paved off-road paths.
- Check your equipment on a regular basis and replace any wheels, bearings, or brakes that are starting to get worn.
- Get instruction from someone with experience. You should know the basic skills of turning, controlling speed, falling safely, and stopping before you use your scooter, skateboard, or inline skates in a public place.
- Always yield to pedestrians.
- Avoid sudden stops and turns, and always be aware of your surroundings.
- When you approach a driveway, parking lot, or intersection, always look for cars that could turn in front of you. When in doubt, slow down.
- These rules of the road are not just courteous, but may save you or someone else from serious injury:
- Pass pedestrians, other riders, or skaters on the left-hand side, and only when it is safe to do so.
- Let others know when you are going to pass them. Say “Passing on your left,” in a pleasant tone of voice that is loud enough for them to hear.
- If riding or skating with another person or group, do so in single file.
- Never hitch a ride to a moving vehicle—you may not be able to slow down fast enough to avoid colliding with the vehicle that is towing you.
It is best to only use scooters, skateboards, and skates during daylight hours. If you must use them when it is dark, be sure to:
- Wear reflective clothing.
- Put flashing bicycle lights on your helmet.
- Carry a flashlight.
The majority of running injuries occur from training too much and overuse, increasing mileage or pace too quickly, and improper stretching. These tips can help you to avoid injuries:
- Warm up with a jog before starting your run.
- Alternate hard days and easy days. Plan 1-2 days per week for rest or cross training.
- Do not add miles too fast. Experts recommend increasing your total weekly mileage by no more than 10% per week.
- Ease into speed workouts by throwing a few short distance surges or uphill sprints into your normal runs. Once this becomes routine, slowly progress to track workouts.
- Replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles. Over time, your shoes lose their ability to absorb shock.
- Try running on different, softer surfaces for some of your runs. Just make sure they are level.
- Stay to the right side of sidewalks, trails, and bike paths.
If you feel pain, stop running. If pain continues when you run, rest the affected area for up to 3 days.
As far as stretching goes, some fitness experts recommend it, while others say that the evidence does not support the idea that stretching reduces injury. If you are interested in stretching, make sure that you learn the proper form for each stretch. A fitness trainer can teach you how to stretch your muscles.
Backyard and Playground Safety
Many summertime accidents and injuries happen in your own backyard or at the neighborhood playground. When playing at home or at the park:
- Always supervise children when they are using play equipment.
- Be sure that children wear appropriate clothing and shoes.
- When installing playground equipment, make sure it is free from obstructions like walls and fences.
- Teach your child safe play habits, including sitting in the center of a swing and not twisting the swing’s chains, which reduces their strength. In addition, tell your child to never walk in front of or behind moving swings.
- Because of the risk of serious injury, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that trampolines are not bought for home use.
- Keep children away from areas where lawn mowers are being used and never allow children to ride on mowers.
Exercising Safety for Older Adults
Our bodies change with age, but one thing that does not change is the need for physical activity to promote physical and mental well-being. You may not be able to play hoops at the level of your 30-year-old colleagues, but you will still reap the benefits of exercise at a slower pace for shorter periods of time. Make modifications to your routine and play smart. Before you head out the door, learn how to reduce your risk of injury this summer:
- Warm up before and cool down after physical activity. Cold muscles are more prone to injury. Try some light jogging or walking.
- Keep it regular. You will not make gains in fitness by cramming your physical activities into the weekend. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Take lessons. Hire a trained professional to help you attain and maintain proper form in your sport, even if it is weight training.
- Get the right equipment for your sport. Make sure that your gear is in good shape and used properly.
Alsoconsider the condition of your shoes, or if you need safety equipment like a helmet.
- Follow the 10% rule. When you are ready to increase your activity level, do so in 10% increments each week. This rule also applies to
- Be cautious about adding new exercises. Whether you are a seasoned fitness enthusiast or new to exercise, avoid taking on too many activities at once. Add activities gradually.
- Listen to your body. If your knees hurt after you play tennis, try playing doubles or think about trying a different activity altogether.
- Seek professional help if you injure yourself. Consult your doctor for any injury that is not relieved with home care. Some injuries require medical treatment and will not go away on their own.
Older age no longer means less activity. In fact, it means quite the opposite. The more active you are the better your body will age. Play smart, listen to your body, and you will find more abilities than limits.
If you want fun, safe summertime activities or are experiencing an injury, Dr. Abdurrahman Kandil is available for consultation. You can call the practice at (703) 665-2720, or schedule an appointment online via the button below. He is currently welcoming new patients.