With temperatures heating up and the final school bells ringing, this can only mean one thing… Summer is upon us! Rhode Island is great for a lot of reasons, but one of its biggest summer perks is the endless access to water. I personally prefer the more relaxing water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding but occasionally, the thrill-seeking part of me sees the fun in wakeboarding, waterskiing, tubing, jet skiing, etc. The fun, however, may also come with some risk.
Most common injuries:
● Head and neck injuries - whiplash related injury, concussion.
● Strain or sprain to knees, shoulders, and ankles. This may include more serious injuries such as ACL ruptures, Achilles ruptures, etc.
● Fractures upon high-speed impact with water.
Tips for Preventing injuries:
● Stretch: Just like any other sport, your muscles need to warm up before applying excessive force or strain. Perform a dynamic warm up prior to activity to increase range of motion and reduce risk for muscle strains.
● Stay hydrated: Water and electrolytes are essential to muscle health and prevention of cramping and risk for muscle strains, especially in higher temperatures.
● Wear protective gear: Life jackets must be worn for all water sports. Other protective gear such as helmets should also be considered for high-speed impact sports to prevent concussion or other TBIs.
● Know your limits: Even professional athletes can be injured during sport. Start slow and gradually increase speed and intensity based on your level of performance. Listen to your body and early signs of injury.
Safety rules also apply for those of us who enjoy land sports as well as water sports. As I get older, I realize that I can't just walk onto the field ready to play 7 innings of rec league softball. My body now requires several minutes of dynamic stretching and playing catch to warm up this rusty shoulder. Don't try to be a hometown hero! Stretch, hydrate, and recover!
Most importantly, while we’re all having fun in the sun, don’t forget that heat-related illness is one of the most common and most dangerous injuries during summer months. Per the CDC, unprotected skin can be burned by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes! So don’t forget to apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day and monitor for symptoms of heat-related illness.
See the CDC diagram below for signs, symptoms, and what to do for all heat-related injuries.