"The long days of summer create an ideal outdoor environment for hiking, jogging, cycling, swimming, golf, tennis, and more," says Armin Tehrany, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, shoulder and knee specialist, and founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care. "But being active for hours on-end can cause muscle fatigue and pose a high risk for injuries, especially during the warmest hours of the day," he adds. That's not all. You're also more susceptible to skin infections and burns, and well—read the rest of the piece to find out.
But, you don't have to stay in a bubble or even a gym for the remainder of the summer. Use these expert tips to reduce your risk of injury, big and small, and enjoy a healthy season.
"If you don’t consume enough fluids, the summer heat can cause dehydration and damage to your body," says Tehrany. This rings especially true if you're launching into high-intensity workouts without letting your body adjust to the rise in temperature. Read Heat Acclimatization Tips: How to Prepare for Warm Weather Races and Outdoor Workouts. You need to have a new regimen in place that includes the right training, diet, and calculated level of exposure (that means, in the beginning of the season, plan your hard workouts in the early or late part of the day when it's cooler) so you don’t suffer from heat exhaustion in high temps and humidity.
Dehydration is also a common occurrence among athletes in the summer. You're sweating more and your body demands a higher h2o intake. Eat more water-rich foods that keep you cool and hydrated, and drink water and cold-pressed juices (in moderation) to fuel your body. "Hydration provides extra strength to your bones by improving bone density, and preserves muscle flexibility and skin elasticity, too," Tehrany adds.
If your feet are itching and burning, especially between your toes, you might have fallen victim to Athlete's foot. Over three million cases of the fungal infection occur each year—usually because guys become more lax with their hygiene and let's face it—everything is sweatier and wetter in the summer, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you're not in the gym, you might be by the pool—both of which harbor bacteria. While the infection can take several forms, the symptoms are typically red, scaly patches of skin on the soles and/or sides of your feet and sometimes even blisters. Wear flip flops whenever you can and swap your sweaty socks for a fresh pair after sweating it out, indoors or out. This is especially important since you’re more susceptible to toenail fungus when your feet are wet.
With the 2016 Olympics in Rio fast approaching, the main topic of conversation isn't who will win gold in the 200-m breaststroke, it's the Zika virus. While the virus is especially dangerous for pregnant women, you probably want to mitigate your risk of contracting and spreading Zika as best you can too, which is why you need to double-down on your protection during evening runs through trails. After all, new research from the University of Miami says mosquito control is the most important and effective way to control the virus. These are the best repellents for your backyard and body. Stock up, because mosquitoes can also transmit West Nile, malaria, and more.
On that eight-mile hike or 40-mile bike ride, it's easy to forget you're roasting under a blazing sun. Or at least easy to forget to apply sunscreen. It can be messy and inconvenient, but it's your number one defense against a horrific sunburn, sun poisoning, and of course skin cancer. (Hugh Jackman has been treated four times!) To make it easier for yourself, apply sunscreen (cream or spray) before you get dressed so you don't miss any spots and end up with one un-burned hand smear across your back. Then, when you're outdoors keep a sport spray handy so you can quickly reapply without getting melted sunscreen all over your hands.
Summer is the time you thrust yourself into new activities. Weekend soccer rec league? Hell yeah. Impromptu volleyball game on the beach? Why not!? Skateboarding with your younger, cooler cousin? Sure! Problem is, this is usually when you pull a muscle or knock something out of place. "Muscle strains often occur when your body isn’t properly warmed up, or when the muscles are largely overused and exhausted," Tehrany says. Even if you're a fit, active guy, you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you're used to moving in one plane of motion—say you only run; your weakness is lateral movements. And if you're spending hours on-end trekking local trails, then swimming in the ocean, followed by a bike ride around your neighborhood, you can severely fatigue your muscles, which raises your risk for injury not only that day, but the next if you're not giving yourself ample time to recover. "Because of this, appropriate training and body conditioning before starting is always a good idea," Tehrany says. Don't overestimate the power of a warmup and sleep.
Some other foolproof tips:
- Train and condition lesser-used muscles with strengthening exercises. - Keep your joints stable and strong with mobility exercises. - Stretch, foam roll, and rest.