Alan Barrett, PA-C, MSPAS
As spring ends, the importance of conditioning your body to prevent injury and illness cannot be overstated.
Whether you’re gearing up for that vacation to the beach to surf the waves, kayaking rivers or heading to the mountains for fresh air and hiking, what you do in the days and weeks to come might determine how enjoyable these excursions will be.
Take a moment to consider these tips to make the most of your pre-summer workouts and come up with a plan.
Coming out of winter hibernation, we all tend to have a few extra pounds. Make a plan to get outside early in the day or late in the evening to be active. These times are better for a number of reasons, but most important because the air is cooler and UV exposure is less.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid the outdoors when your shadow is shorter than you are tall. If you cannot avoid being out during the middle of the day, make sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF greater than 50 and sunshades that limit your exposure to UVA/B rays.
Buying a new water bottle might encourage you to improve your hydration. The well-known rule to consume 64 ounces of water daily is a good standard for water consumption; however, listen to your body and avoid drinking too much. Drink to your individual “thirst,” and your daily intake will be met.
Additional water is consumed via nutritional intake. At the other end of the spectrum, be mindful of alcohol consumption, as this can dehydrate you and impair your ability to perform during strenuous activity.
One danger during summer is heat stroke. Two factors united significantly increase the likelihood of developing heat stroke: dehydration and overexertion.
What is heat stroke exactly? Heat stroke occurs when the core body temperature elevates to 104 degrees or higher and the body is not able to function properly. Its symptoms include dizziness and nausea, dry skin, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle cramps, headaches and confusion. Render care by moving to a cool and shady area, sipping fluids with electrolytes as tolerated, removing or loosening clothing and applying ice packs to the armpits, groin and nape of the neck.
Lastly, make sure any equipment you might need for your adventure is checked and working properly before you set out. The worst time to discover you should have made a run to the local sporting goods store is 10 miles into a hike or a mile downriver.
Check your first aid kit to make sure it has something to treat the bites, burns and bumps that you are sure to collect along the way.
As always, the best way to prevent injury is with proper pre-hab.