We asked Dr. Jeffrey Brent, a sports medicine physician and a specialist in musculoskeletal injuries, how to enjoy outdoor activities safely this summer.
Q: What are some of the common injuries people sustain during the summer?
Dr. Brent: We typically see an increase in fractures, especially in children. They are still exploring their physical limitations, and the weakest link in a child’s musculoskeletal system tends to be their developing bones. Many of the fractures I see in children occur when they fall from an increased height—the monkey bars, a trampoline, or a tree.
Q: What are some ways to reduce my child’s risk of injuries from falls?
Dr. Brent: The best way to prevent falls is with a little common sense. Be aware of your child’s surroundings. If they are at a height greater than their own, they should be supervised and even spotted by an adult (be ready to catch them should they fall). The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend trampolines at all. If you have one, be sure to use an enclosure net.
Q: What injuries do you see in adults?
Dr. Brent: As adults age, tendons usually become their weakest link. It’s rare to see an Achilles tendon rupture in someone under the age of 30, but as we age this can be a major problem for the older weekend-warrior athlete. These kinds of injuries can occur in a pickup basketball game or friendly tennis match.
Q: How can adults prevent common tendon injuries?
Dr. Brent: Try to maintain a baseline level of physical fitness so that when your tendons are acutely stressed they are able to maintain their structural integrity. Suddenly putting a strain on a tendon that hasn’t seen that type of use in months will most likely result in injury. So, start gradually if it’s your first day back on the tennis court. Your body will become used to that sort of activity over the next few weeks and be able to respond appropriately to increased strain. It’s also generally recommended that you stretch before any strenuous activity.
Q: Do you have any other tips for adults and children this summer?
Dr. Brent: Physical activity offers a wealth of health benefits, including decreased blood pressure, decreased risk of diabetes, stronger bones, weight-loss, enhanced mood with less depression, and even decreased risk of some cancers. It’s important to stay physically active year round. Taking a few precautionary steps can help you enjoy these benefits and avoid injuries during the summer months.