How 'weekend warriors' can avoid common summer sports injuries

Kitchener chiropractor Craig Bauman says it’s not uncommon to hurt yourself playing summer sports, but it’s also avoidable.

It’s not uncommon to hurt yourself playing summer sports, but it’s also avoidable

Ottawa tennis pro Rachel Cruikshank hits a tennis ball on June 8. Kitchener chiropractor Craig Bauman says there are a number of steps people can take to avoid injury during their favourite summer sport. (CBC)

It might happen during a pick-up game of basketball, your weekly slo-pitch game or while out on the golf course — sports injuries are common in the summer, particularly for people who go hard and fast as soon as they can.

But Kitchener chiropractor Craig Bauman says most injuries like knee strains, low back strains and tennis elbow are avoidable.

So-called "weekend warriors" tend to be so excited to play their sports, they forget the basics, like warming up, Bauman said.

"People tend to go gung-ho on the weekend and then they're sedentary the rest of the week and so those muscles tighten up and atrophy during the week and then all of a sudden, they go into overdrive on the weekend so there is a chance for a strain or a sprain," he said.

Bauman — who works at the The Centre for Family Medicine, which is part of the University of Waterloo Downtown Kitchener Health Sciences Campus — offered some tips for sports enthusiasts to ensure they'll be playing all summer long.

Warm up — seriously

The warm summer sun might have you sweating before you hit the field, but that doesn't mean your muscles are ready to go.

Bauman recommended going for a brisk walk about 10-15 minutes before activity. Then do some light or dynamic stretching, depending on your activity. He said the Ontario Chiropractic Association has a number of stretches depending on your activity, including gardening.

A stretch should feel good, he noted and warming up isn't just to help you avoid injury — warm muscles will perform tasks better and it will give you an edge over your rival.

Little things add up

Keeping up regular, daily activity can be hard with work and life schedules.

You might only have time for a quick walk at lunch or some light weights, but general fitness will decrease the likelihood of injury.

"Doing a little bit during the week and doing some stretching or some yoga or something like that, that can make a big difference," Bauman said.

Learn proper form

If you're finding you're always experiencing lower back pain while golfing, it may be that your form is off and you're swing is all wrong.

Bauman recommends taking some lessons and getting feedback on proper posture. He also said make sure your shoes are in good shape and remaining hydrated is also important to keep muscles happy.

Don't shrug off an injury

Soft tissue can take up to three months to heal from a strain. A tear can take even longer and may require rehab.

Bauman said if an injury isn't getting better after four to seven days, it's time to see a health professional. They might be able to provide some home exercises, some low-impact aquafit exercises or may recommend rehab with a professional.

"You want to get back to your activity. Summer's so short. Do you want to lose two months of your summer where you can be enjoying yourself? If you see a professional, you're much more likely to get back in action and enjoy the rest of the summer."

Push, don't pull

When you can, push things like golf carts, don't pull them.

Pulling means you're twisting and you could torque your spine, Bauman said, which makes you vulnerable to injury.

But it doesn't mean you should jump in the golf cart to get around. If you're playing 18 holes of golf, that's about eight kilometres of walking — great exercise and a good way to strengthen muscles.

The Ontario Chiropractic Association has suggested stretches to do before summer activities including fitness, gardening and these for golf:


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