The sun is shining, the weather is finally warming up, and you're excited to get outside and start exercising again. Motivation is great, but going too hard too soon can lead to injury.
Here are the most common outdoor exercise injuries to watch out for, and how to make sure you stay safe and healthy:
When the tissue that connects muscle to bone or bone to joints becomes overstretched or torn, you might hear a pop or feel a ripping sensation. Strains and sprains are usually the result of fast twisting or other sudden movements and are accompanied by pain, swelling, bruising, and trouble moving. Strains can also result from repetitive movement and include tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, patella tendonitis (jumper's knee), and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).
A fracture is a broken bone. A bone may get completely or partially fractured from trauma (such as a tackle or fall) or overuse. Stress fractures, which are tiny breaks in the bone, are more likely to happen when someone has just started a new exercise or quickly ramps up the intensity of their workout. No matter the severity, fractures require medical attention and may result in a cast or surgery.
Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, are characterized by pain in the large bone at the front of your lower leg. You might notice tenderness or soreness when you touch the area. If left untreated, shin splints can turn into a bone fracture.
If you're playing any outdoor sport with body contact—like football, baseball, or soccer—pay special attention to head safety. A blow to the head that results in symptoms like headache, loss of consciousness, confusion, and nausea must be carefully evaluated to reduce the chance of complications.
Your skin is exposed to the elements while exercising outdoors, which leaves you vulnerable to sunburn. Sunburn isn't just painful—it's dangerous. Besides the skin cancer risks, it can also cause sun poisoning.
Step up your training gradually to give your body time to adjust to the weather, outdoor terrain, and physical intensity. Rather than working out every day, try exercising three to four days a week on alternating days.
Performing full-body stretching or light cardio for 15 to 30 minutes before working out increases blood flow to the muscles and improves flexibility.
Dehydration can lead to fatigue and overworking your muscles. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
Don't push your body beyond its limits. Minor aches and soreness can quickly develop into something more serious. If you have sharp pain, shortness of breath, or other troublesome symptoms, see a doctor immediately.
If you think you might have one of these common injuries stop by your nearest CityMD to get checked out.
A board certified physician in emergency medicine, Dr. Dmitry Volfson completed his residency program in Emergency Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He served as chief resident in his final year.
After his residency, Dr. Volfson worked as an emergency medicine attending physician at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport CT and at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York. As assistant residency program director, he also taught residents.
Dr. Volfson received received his bachelor's degree in Biochemistry at the Honors College of College of Staten Island. He received his degree of Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.