Ease into summer sports to avoid injury
Active+, one of New Zealand’s largest multi-disciplinary rehabilitation suppliers, is warning Kiwis to take care when jumping back into summer sports activities.
The network of physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinics says as temperatures rise and people head outside after a winter of being less active, the number of summer sports injuries could also boom.
According to Active+, the most common summer sports injuries are ankle, knee, elbow and shoulder sprains. Ligament injuries, broken bones, concussions, neck or lower back strain, and heat-related illnesses are also common.
Pains and twinges can be caused by a raft of outdoor activities, which become more popular over the summer months in New Zealand, including touch rugby, surfing, cycling, golf, volleyball, jogging, and even walking and running on uneven surfaces, such as at the beach or on trails.
Andy Schmidt, Director of Active+ with a background in sports physio, recommends easing back into summer activities to avoid injury.
“If you’ve had a bit of downtime over winter, as many of us do, don’t try to throw yourself back into your summer sports at the same level you were at last summer.
“It’s well worth spending some time conditioning your body, regardless of how seriously you take your summer activities. Even a couple of casual games of touch rugby could result in a painful sprain if you’re out of shape.
“I would suggest gradually increasing activity duration and intensity over a period of four to six weeks. For example, you could start with 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three days a week, eventually working up to 45 minutes, four to five days a week.
“Try and make sure the exercise you do includes elements of the sport you are going to be doing – for example, if you are going to be surfing, make sure you work on that shoulder flexibility and balance. When you start your summer activities, warm up by stretching and slowly getting back into the game.”
If a sports-related injury does occur, Andy says it’s important to get it checked out by a professional, sooner rather than later.
“Be sure to consult with your GP or physio about potential treatment options if you’re in pain.
“Don’t put it off or wait until the pain is more severe before making an appointment. The treatment will depend on the individual and their injury but could include joint mobilisation/manipulation, soft tissue massage, acupuncture, trigger point massage/release, stretches and most importantly sports specific strengthening and exercises and advice on a graduated return to activity.
“It should also include a home programme of care to continue your rehab. Whatever your particular injury is, your health professional will be able to put together a treatment plan to get you back out enjoying your sports as soon as possible. We want you to stay active this summer – do the hard work now to make sure you can!”