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Preventing, treating summer sports injuries

How to avoid those summer sports injuries and how to treat them at home, when possible.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - When the temperatures spike, so do visits to the ER. In fact, studies show emergency room visits increase more than 25 percent during summer months.

Dr. Ryan Fader is a sports medicine physician with Allina Health, and he joined us to talk about the most common summer injuries and the best ways to break our bodies out of hibernation.

Some tips to prevent injuries:

• Of course, the best way is to maintain a year-round level of fitness, but a lot of people slow down their fitness routines in the winter.

• Try focusing on core exercises which strengthen muscles of the abdomen and hip core – specifically those "butt muscles."

• By keeping these muscles in shape increase stability and decrease the risk of both acute and overuse damage to the knees and ankles and muscles/tendons of the legs.

• Cross training is also a very important way to decrease overuse injuries or even many sprains and strains.

• By doing a variety of different physical activities, we are more likely to strengthen different types of muscles.

• Great cross training activities include biking (stationary or outdoors), yoga, Pilates, soccer and tennis.

When to see a doctor:

• When increasing how long you exercise or the level of exertion, it is normal to have some aches and pains.

• However, signs of concern include pain in specific areas lasting longer than 7 days, actual swelling in a joint (especially knees, ankles, elbows) or persisting redness over an area.

How to treat injuries at home:

• Stretching is very helpful for the normal aches and pains that are part of getting more active.

• Gentle stretching like a runners’ stretch using a wall and holding a stretch for 30 seconds duration 2-3 times per day can help muscle and ankle soreness.

• Applying ice to sore muscles for 15 minutes several times each day can provide some relief.

• Ibuprofen type medications or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help minimize pain, but do not actually help the body heal faster in most cases.