Dr. Wayne Winnick is one of our more popular guests. As the chiropractor for the New York Mets, he knows a little bit about preventing summer sports injuries. We’re thrilled that he was able to take some time between innings at Citi Field to provide this sage advice:
Well, it’s summer – time to get out there and move around. Some of you have been exercising all winter, or at least making an attempt, but there are a large percentage of us that are just getting started. But not so fast. Warmer weather affects our bodies differently, especially if it is humid. Our hearts work harder and humidity can cause our bodies to overheat. Simply, our sweat cannot evaporate into the air (that cools us off) if the air is already heavy with moisture. So, what do we do? Well, if it is really humid (above 70%) go slower and shorten your workout. Hydrate – don’t overdo it. And warm up. Warm up? It’s already hot I heard someone say! Yes, perform whatever activity you are going to perform slowly for the first 5 minutes or more. This will acclimatize your system to the unique demands of that particular activity. Try to have eaten at least 60-90 minutes before. And always gradually increase your time and intensity. Don’t overdo it.
Here are some interesting facts: Being physically fit decreases your chances of being injured, so if you haven’t exercised much before, don’t kill it because it’s a beautiful day. Those who exercise less than 3x a week were almost 2x as likely to sustain an injury. Create a schedule and stick to it. Those over 25 yrs old have a greater risk of injury. Older people need to progressively condition themselves. Studies show that depression, anxiety, smoking, job stress and peer pressure all play a part in sports injuries. It’s great to exercise with buddies, but don’t let them take you where you don’t belong. And although its true, exercise helps reduces the effects of depression, anxiety, and stress-your body, it is also more vulnerable to fatigue and injury.
If I had to name the 3 most important ways to reduce sports injuries this summer, they would be:
1. Use intelligent training techniques-cross train by changing your activities so that you use different muscle groups. Studies show that reducing the number of consecutive days of training can lower your injury rate. Take time for rest and recovery. If you increase your training, then increase your rest.
2. Make sure you are using the right equipment. Whether it’s your running, shoes, your bike seat/handle bar height, baseball glove, tennis racquet, golf club, or any other piece of athletic equipment-good fit is essential to injury prevention. And that includes your workout clothes!
3. Maintain your muscle strength and flexibility. Stretch! Do this particularly after your sport as well as lightly before. Put yourself on a general strengthening program, it will decrease weakness, imbalance, and increase stamina. Do it yourself or get a qualified trainer.
And always, have fun!
-Wayne M. Winnick, DC, CCSP