Summer Fitness: Protecting Your Spine During Outdoor Activities

Summer Fitness: Protecting Your Spine During Outdoor Activities
Ah yes, 100+ degree weather. It’s summer alright! With the kids out of school, and the weather bright and sunny - you might be extra active (hopefully not during the hottest parts of the day, heat strokes are a very real thing!). As you dive into sports, hikes, and other recreational activities, protecting your spine should be a top priority (along with sunscreen). Here’s a guide to common injuries and tips on how to avoid them to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable summer.

Common Spine Injuries During Summer Activities

Summer Fitness: Protecting Your Spine During Outdoor Activities

  1. Strains and Sprains
    • Description: Strains occur when muscles or tendons are overstretched or torn, while sprains involve ligaments. We’ve probably all had one at some point. I bet you don’t want to repeat that, do you?
    • Common Causes: These injuries often result from sudden movements, improper warm-ups, or overexertion.
    • Prevention:
      • Always warm up before any physical activity.
      • Incorporate stretching exercises to increase flexibility.
      • Use proper techniques and avoid overdoing any activity.
  2. Herniated Discs
    • Description: A herniated disc occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the tougher exterior casing. You don’t want this…trust me. It’s painful.
    • Common Causes: Lifting heavy objects incorrectly, sudden impacts, or repetitive stress can cause herniated discs.
    • Prevention:
      • Use proper lifting techniques, such as bending your knees and keeping your back straight.
      • Avoid activities that require sudden, jarring motions.
      • Strengthen core muscles to support your spine.
  3. Sciatica
    • Description: Sciatica is pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which runs down one or both legs from the lower back.
    • Common Causes: Prolonged sitting, heavy lifting, or sudden twisting motions can irritate the sciatic nerve.
    • Prevention:
      • Take regular breaks from sitting.
      • Stretch your lower back and hamstrings regularly.
      • Avoid heavy lifting without proper support and form.
  4. Fractures
    • Description: Fractures can occur in the vertebrae due to falls, collisions, or high-impact sports.
    • Common Causes: High-impact activities such as biking, surfing, skating, or contact sports.
    • Prevention:
      • Wear appropriate protective gear for high-impact sports.
      • Practice balance and coordination exercises to prevent falls.
      • Be mindful of your limits and avoid risky maneuvers.

Tips for Protecting Your Spine During Summer Activities

Summer Fitness: Protecting Your Spine During Outdoor Activities

  1. Stay Hydrated
    • Dehydration can affect the elasticity and strength of the spinal discs. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when engaging in outdoor activities. Also, it’s just insanely hot. We’re reaching record temperatures this year. Take care kiddos, drink those fluids please.
  2. Maintain Good Posture
    • Whether you’re running, cycling, or hiking, maintain a good posture. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed to minimize strain on your spine. This goes double for anything requiring intense exercise or heavy lifting.
  3. Strengthen Core Muscles
    • A strong core supports your spine. Incorporate exercises such as planks, bridges, and abdominal crunches into your fitness routine to build core strength. Everyone hates crunches, we know. But you gotta do ‘em.
  4. Use Proper Equipment
    • Ensure you have the right equipment for your activity, whether it’s supportive footwear for running or a well-fitted backpack for hiking. Proper gear can prevent unnecessary strain on your spine. Don’t go on a shopping spree, but invest in quality gear you know you’ll get good use out of.
  5. Take Breaks
    • Don’t push yourself too hard. Take regular breaks to rest and stretch, especially during long activities. Listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort. That age old phrase “no pain, no gain”? It’s stupid. Forget it. If you’re in pain, listen to your body. Mild to moderate soreness is normal. Extreme soreness that impacts daily activities or different kinds of pain are a cause for concern.
  6. Consult a Professional
    • If you’re new to a sport or activity, consider consulting a professional trainer or coach to learn the proper techniques. This can help prevent injuries and ensure you’re performing activities safely.

When to See a Chiropractor

Despite taking precautions, injuries can still occur. They’re accidents and can’t always be prevented, even if you do all the right things. If you experience an injury or persistent back pain, numbness, or tingling in your limbs, it’s important to seek professional help. A chiropractor can diagnose and treat spinal issues, helping you recover quickly and get back to your favorite activities.

By taking the necessary precautions and being mindful of your spine, you can enjoy a fun and injury-free summer. Remember, a healthy spine is key to overall well-being, so make spine care a part of your fitness routine. Stay safe, stay active, and enjoy your summer to the fullest! We’ve got your summer wellness covered. Happy summer!

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Picture of Dr. Nichole A. Walz

Dr. Nichole A. Walz

Dr. Josh Huddleston, and I are the founders of On-The-Go Wellness®. We are husband & wife, who just so happen to be Board Certified, Licensed, Chiropractic Physicians & Certified Yoga Instructors! After practicing with other clinics in the USA and Singapore for the past 5 years, we decided to start On-The-Go Wellness® to fit our active, mobile lifestyles.

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