Summer sports injuries easily prevented, treated
Marines pride themselves in staying healthy through activities to include individual and group fitness, ranging from lifting weights to water polo.
When engaging in any sort of vigorous activity, there is a possibility of injury, especially if steps are not taken to prepare for and prevent injuries, according to Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul R. Mason, a hospital corpsman with U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.
“If we don’t take the time to properly prepare, such as stretching and hydration, the risk of injury is greatly increased,” said Mason.
Sports injuries are a result of acute trauma or repetitive stress associated with athletic activities, according to Navy Lt. Matthew Wendt, an orthopedic surgeon at USNH-Okinawa. Sports injuries can affect bones or soft tissue such as ligaments, muscles and tendons.
Common types of sports injuries are sprains and strains, according to Wendt. Sprains are a stretch or tear of the connective tissue that keeps bones attached to one another, whereas strains are a stretch, tear or inflammation of tendons or joints.
“Risk factors associated with sprains and strains are inappropriate shoe wear and fit, irregular playing surfaces, high-impact sports such as basketball, football and soccer, and a history of ankle sprains,” said Wendt.
Most sprains and strains can be treated by the “RICE” method, which calls for rest, ice, compression and elevation, according to Wendt. This will give the injured area a chance to heal.
Stress fractures are another common sports injury and can be caused by drastic increases in training intensity, pre-existing health problems, incorrect technique, and quality and age of footwear, according to Wendt.
“Avoid increasing running mileage more than 10 percent per week, and maintain a stable core with smooth form and upright posture,” said Wendt.
One thing to keep in mind while staying active is hydration, according to Mason. It is easy to underestimate the effects of hydration, or lack thereof, especially for personnel who are new to Okinawa. The symptoms of dehydration can range from being thirsty to heat stroke.
To avoid becoming a heat casualty, it is vital to drink plenty of water, be mindful of the weather conditions, and pay close attention to the humidity and heat index, according to Mason.
“We recommend people drink a minimum of half their body weight in fluid ounces of water per day and more if engaging in strenuous activity,” said Mason.
If someone becomes dizzy or ill due to dehydration, they should immediately be given water and moved to a shaded area, according to Mason.
Mason also recommends using sunscreen when going outdoors to avoid painful sunburns.
By implementing some basic safeguards, the summer months are a great time to get outside and experience Okinawa, according to Mason.
“This time of year can be very fulfilling,” said Mason. “From days at the beach to picnics in the park, when we keep these summer precautions in mind, we avoid unnecessary time off from work and can fully enjoy our time on Okinawa.”