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Health & Exercise Forum

Injury Prevention and Safety for Spring and Summer Sports

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May 15, 2009

Dr. Paul MackareySoon summer will be here. It is that time of year when kids begin playing summer sports and attending summer sports camps. It is also a time when injury rates are high due to extreme temperatures, poor conditioning, and poor hydration. One concern I have always had was the fact that well-intended coaches did not always have the information or staff to have an effective plan to prevent or manage injuries. While most little league fields have ice and a telephone, they do not have an adequate plan for warm-up and conditioning, a first aide kit and a lightening prevention and treatment plan.

Warm-up and Conditioning

Conditioning begins during the spring. It includes slow running to warm-up the body for 10 minutes followed by slow, static stretching of the arms and legs. Some examples are:

  • Warm -Up: a pre-activity slow jog or exercise bike to warm up the muscles prior to play.
  • Stretching: Indian sit stretch, Hurdler stretch, Lying hamstring wall stretch
  • Strengthening Exercises: weight training for legs, including inside and outside leg muscles, slide drill and cross kick against resistance tubing
  • Agility Drills: figure 8, cross-over, tire or disc running
  • Compression Shorts: especially if cool weather or history of leg muscle pulls
  • Cool Down: slow jog or walk after activity for 5 minutes to cool down. Also, use ice to the sore areas after exercise or sport


Proper hydration is essential for the comfort and safety of the recreational and serious athlete. Hydration is critical to maintain cardiovascular function, body temperature and muscle performance. As temperature, humidity, intensity, and duration of exercise increase, so too does the importance of proper hydration. Excessive sweating can lead to a loss of blood volume which requires the heart to work much harder to circulate you blood through your body.

Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue, loss of coordination, and muscle cramping leading to poor performance. Pre-hydration, (drinking before exercise) is the first step in preventing dehydration. Marathon runners, other long distance runners and cyclists often pre-hydrate 1-2 days before a big event. Re-hydration, (drinking during or after exercise) is the second step in preventing dehydration. While athletes may be more vulnerable to dehydration, all persons engaging in exercise would benefit from increased performance, delayed muscle fatigue and pain by maintaining adequate hydration. Proper pre-hydration would include drinking 12-16 ounces of water 1-2 hours before exercise.  Athletes with other health issues should consult their family physician before engaging in long distance endurance sports.

First-Aid Kit, Medical Info and Emergency Contacts

A first-aid kit needs to be complete and available at all practices and games. Medical information cards should be completed, filed and available along with emergency contacts numbers of family, physicians, local police and emergency professionals. A first aide kit should include: exam gloves, resuscitation masks/shields, ice bags, cotton roll bandages, roll gauze & gauze pads (2 & 4 inches), elastic wrap (3 & 6 inches), eye wash, eye patch, athletic tape (2 inches), antibiotic ointment, antiseptic and alcohol swipes, shoulder sling, arm & leg air splint, scissors, sun block, insect repellent, and insect sting ointment.

Prevent and Treat Lightning Injuries

Each year 100 to 600 people die and thousands more are injured due to lightning strikes.

All those participating in outdoor activities, especially baseball and golf are vulnerable. One individual must make the call regarding immediate removal of participants from the field. A coach involved in the game may not be the best person. Access to a phone is essential. A chain of command must be established, communicated and followed. Also, someone should be assigned the duty to watch the weather report and report potential problems to appropriate parties. A designated safe shelter must be provided. Use a 30 second flash-to-bang count system to determine danger and immediately get to a shelter. Do not allow the return to the field until 30 minutes have passed without a flash. Avoid the following: the highest point in an area, water, trees and poles. Assume a lightning safe posture (squat like catcher on balls of feet, feet together, lower head and cover ears) if you have sensations of skin tingling or hair standing on end.

If someone is hit by lightning, administer appropriate first aid and CPR. Immediately call 911 for emergency medical services.

Source: National Athletic Trainer’s Association

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.
Keep moving, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly

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This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an affiliated faculty member at the University of  Scranton, PT Dept.