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Some of The Best (and safest) Summer Fun Possible

From the Palo Alto Medical Foundation

Summer is almost here and that means fun in the sun for you, your friends, and family members of all ages—swimming, wakeboarding, jet skiing, boating, scuba diving, backpacking and more. While these sports can be thrilling and energizing, they also bring with them different risks of injury. Below are tips on how to prevent summer sports injuries, so you can enjoy every minute of summer!

Tips:

  • Wait 30 minutes after eating a meal before getting into the water.
  • Never drink alcohol and operate any mechanical vehicle including boats, jet skis and scuba gear.
  • Do not try to push too hard, especially if you are tired. People usually injure themselves seriously late in the day when they are tired.

Wakeboarding

The sport of wakeboarding uses a combination of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing techniques. The rider uses a single, twin-tipped board with stationary bindings for each foot. He or she is pulled behind a boat, riding the board standing sideways (as on a snowboard or skateboard).

Wakeboarding can be great fun, but it can also cause serious injury. Wakeboarding injuries peak during adolescence, as opposed to young adulthood and middle age for the similar sport of water skiing.

The most common, serious wakeboarding injuries are ACL tears, shoulder dislocations and ankle sprains. Lacerations are also common, with the head and face most commonly injured areas. There are also a variety of injuries when a wakeboarder hits the water at a high velocity.

To prevent injury:

  • Get trained by a professional wakeboarding instructor.
  • Do strength training to protect your body from exhaustion injuries.
  • Use bindings that feature effective release mechanisms.
  • Use a towrope with a plastic or foam coating to reduce lacerations.
  • Make sure the boat driver is sober!
  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Wear a helmet.

Water Skiing

Water skiing is similar to downhill snow skiing. The water skier straps a long board to each foot (the boards are not connected) with the bindings oriented forward. To start, the ski tips are parallel, pointed up toward the sky. The skier lies back, maintaining a balance between the skies. When the boat driver hits the throttle, the skier should “pop up” out of the water and ski along the surface.

A variation of “normal” water skiing is slalom skiing, where the skier uses one ski instead of two. Both feet face forward, one behind the other. This type of water skiing is much more difficult than using two skis.

Water skiing is associated with many injuries, including:

  • Lacerations
  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Eenema injuries

Although water skiing injuries peak during young adulthood and middle age instead of adolescence (unlike wakeboarding), teenagers still need to be cautious while water skiing.

To prevent injury:

  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Do strength training to prevent knee and lower extremities injuries.
  • Use a towrope with a plastic or foam coating to reduce lacerations.
  • Make sure the boat driver is sober!
  • If you are a novice, have the boat pull you at a slower pace.
  • Use skis that are fitted to you; the bindings should be snug but will release if you fall.
  • Never ski at night, in shallow water or in front of another boat.
  • Avoid rough water and unknown areas; there may be unseen dangers.
  • Wear a helmet to protect against head injury.

Scuba Diving

Scuba (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving is a sport that is popular among vacationers around the world. It is the sport of swimming underwater, usually with fins, while using self-contained breathing equipment.

By nature, scuba diving is a dangerous sport. There are many issues that you need to address throughout a dive. Common injuries include:

  • Ruptured eardrums
  • Damage to sinuses
  • Decompression sickness
  • Nitrogen narcosis
  • Skin cuts and grazes.

To prevent injury:

  • Get certified! Diving requires some training and/or certification.
  • To avoid barotraumas, equalize pressure in all air spaces when changing depth. This is achieved in two ways: by using the “Valsalva maneuver” – pinching your nose and attempting to exhale through it, or by using the “Frenzel maneuver” – using your throat muscle to swallow. (The Frenzel maneuver is more difficult.)
  • To avoid decompression sickness, make safety stops on your ascent. This allows gas trapped in your bloodstream to gradually leave the body. Ascend slowly.
    • If you do get decompression sickness, get treated with a recompression chamber.
  • To avoid nitrogen narcosis, stay above 66 ft or dive with trimix or heliox instead of the normal tank full of air.
  • Wear a diving suit to avoid cuts and grazes.

Backpacking

Backpacking is more popular during the summer because the climate is usually warmer, and there is more daylight for longer hiking and usually more vacation time.

Since backpacking is an overnight activity, you have to carry all your gear and supplies in your pack. Sufficient gear includes food, water, shelter (usually a tent) and little else. All supplies must be compact and as lightweight as possible because all the weight will be carried on your back.

Backpacking trips can last anywhere from one night to several months. However, longer trips require much more planning and preparation.

Injuries from backpacking are often similar to hiking injuries:

  • Ankle sprains
  • Fractures
  • Blisters, cuts and bruises
  • Back injuries due to the heavy backpack.

Other problems that backpackers face in the wilds of nature include animals, hypothermia, heat stroke, dehydration and hypoxia (since backpacking is most common in the mountain wilderness).

To prevent injury:

  • Train for strenuous activity before the trip; do aerobic exercise and strength training.
  • Don’t try to overstuff your pack. As a general rule, your pack should weigh no more than one-third of your body weight.
  • Use hiking poles to distribute the extra pack weight and avoid back injury.
  • Only hike in full daylight.
  • Keep a first aid kit handy. Remember to include moleskin for blisters.
  • Bring plenty of water, and stay hydrated!
  • When hiking, keep your eyes on the trail.

In all you do this summer, remember sun protection! Girls4Sport provides women and girls a wide range of coverage for most any activity. For more great health and safety tips, visit the Palo Alto Medical Foundation at http://www.pamf.org/. Happy summer, everyone!

Copyright Palo Alto Medical Foundation

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