Think Healthy

On the Safe Side

Have a worry-free summer with these sports safety tips

The sun’s out, temperatures are rising and summer sports and outdoor activities are in full swing. Before you run outside, Micah Lissy, MD, MS PT, ATC, CSCS, UHS orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician, offers some tips to stay healthy and injury-free this season:

Take it Slowly.

It takes 7 to 14 days for a body to adapt to exercising in the heat. “You can’t go outside on a 90-degree day and do the same things you were just doing when it was 70 degrees. You can get seriously ill,” says Dr. Lissy. He recommends taking frequent breaks and slowly acclimating to the searing temperatures.

 Stay Hydrated.

Drink water before, during and after exercise. “As a rule of thumb, athletes should be drinking 200–300 ml for every 15 minutes of exercise,” Dr. Lissy says. “And most sports drinks have as much sugar as soda these days, so they don’t adequately hydrate you.” According to the National Athletic Training Association, dehydration can also reduce muscle strength, so not only will you feel better by drinking water, you’ll perform better, too.

Check the Weather.

In addition to extreme high temperatures and humidity, thunderstorms bring their own dangers. If lightning is present, athletes should stay inside or seek an enclosed building that has plumbing, Dr. Lissy cautions. “Dugouts don’t count,” says Dr. Lissy. He adds that an enclosed school bus or other vehicle is better than nothing.

Protect Yourself.

Whether riding a bike or playing baseball, protective equipment like a helmet or pads must be worn. To avoid overheating, unnecessary equipment can be taken off for training, but be sure to put them back on for games, Dr. Lissy says. And don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses and hats to shield your skin and eyes.


Dr. Lissy says that approximately 50% of serious injuries for middle schoolers and high schoolers are overuse in nature, like throwing too many pitches during baseball season. “Some sports like baseball are now year-round,” says Dr. Lissy. “A three-month break from any sport is recommended, ideally filled with cross-training a different activity.” If something hurts, listen to your body and take a breather.

Know Your Terrain.

A field is not as predictable as a gymnasium floor, so be cautious. “Some of our fields can have uneven aspects that can lead to injuries like ankle sprains,” says Dr. Lissy. Field hockey has the most reported ankle injuries of any sport, followed by other outdoor sports like football, soccer, lacrosse and softball.

Treat Injuries.

If you’re unsure if you need medical attention, Dr. Lissy says there are a few things to look for. “If there is a deformity, the pain is so severe you can’t put weight on it or use that limb, or if the discomfort is lasting for a long period of time, the injury needs to be looked at by a doctor.” Also seek medical attention if you have suffered a head injury or suspect a concussion.


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