By Scott Prater
Ah spring time. Winter’s grip finally loosens to reveal a fresh new world. Temperatures rise into a more comfortable range and people who have felt dormant for four months begin to grow restless.
It’s also the most common time of year for sports related injuries.
“People get spring fever,” said Mark Schuette, Schriever fitness center personal trainer. “The weather starts to get nice and they think they need to take advantage of the day. They’ll go out and try to run five miles. Even if they’ve been on a treadmill for four months, that’s not a wise action to take.”
According to the 50th Space Wing Safety Office, Air Force Space Command had 73 sports related injuries during 2009, resulting in 589 days of missed work, not to mention the dollar costs or hospital visits.
These statistics demonstrate the importance for people to be cautious when starting their new season or exercise routine.
“The most common type of injury is going to be a pulled muscle — hamstrings, groins, things of that nature,” said Korey Kuykendall, Schriever fitness center personal trainer. “Mostly because people have been sitting idle and haven’t experienced a whole lot of movement during the previous four months.”
The Schriever trainers recommend people perform some type of sport-specific dynamic stretching exercises in preparation for whatever activity they’ll be attempting.
“Think of a baseball player in the on-deck circle,” Mr. Schuette said. “He is warming up by using the same motion he’ll be using when he’s at bat. He’s getting his body ready for the workout he’s about to do.”
This tip is practiced during the 50th Comptroller Squadron’s physical training program sessions.
“We try to do dynamic warm ups where we imitate the movements we’ll be performing later on,” said Airman 1st Class Alan Acosta, the unit’s physical training leader. “On running days we do high knees and toe touches. We also try to start out slow and pick up the pace as we go.”
Another common mistake people make is driving to their venue, jumping out of their car and attempting to stride right into their sport.
“Say you have a soccer match,” Mr. Kuykendall said. “You want to arrive 45 minutes early, get warmed up, get your heart rate going before you start playing.”
Improper hydration is another common factor in sports related injuries.
The trainers recommend drinking a minimum of two cups of water an hour before exercising and maintaining your hydration level by continuing to drink water during and after your athletic event.
Weekend athletes tend to garner their fair share of injuries, but you don’t have to be training for a double-header to get hurt.
“A lot of people are less prone to work out during the winter months, but when spring hits they feel like they need to get their beach body, so they hit it hard, go intense and end up with overuse injuries,” Mr. Schuette said. “The way to prevent that would be to keep working out during winter and start slow in the spring. Don’t tell yourself you’ve got one month to lose 10 pounds.”
Of course, proper nutrition perhaps plays the largest role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding injury. The Schriever trainers recommend people visit any number of food pyramid Web sites to learn their optimum level of caloric intake.
All of these tips are great for avoiding injury, but even the most prepared athletes incur injuries.
“We like to talk about R.I.C.E. when people ask us how to treat a muscle pull,” Mr. Kuykendall said. “No, not the kind you’re thinking of, but the acronym for rest, ice, compress and elevate.”
There are conflicting studies as to how long people should keep ice on their injuries, but all agree that the first 24 hours are important. Mr. Kuykendall recommends 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. And don’t place the ice directly on the skin. A towel or a shirt between skin and ice is preferred.
Compress means to keep the injury wrapped in ace bandage, and elevate means to raise the injured area above the heart.
Schriever’s fitness is available to answer questions regarding fitness, exercise and injury prevention. Mr. Kuykendall and Schuette are two of the four American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainers on base. They also offer a plyometrics class designed help with sports conditioning.
Call the fitness center at 567-6628 for more information.