Common Sense for Outdoor Activities
by Dr. Kirk A. Lee, D.C.
During the warmer months, our interest turns to outdoor activities. For those of you who practice in states where you commonly see the changing of the seasons, we also see a change in the patients who come to our office. Both new patients and established patients will commonly exacerbate or reaggrevate a new or existing neuromusculoskeletal condition from gardening, starting a running program, or golfing, just to name a few activities. Let’s look at some things that benefit our patients from an informational point of view. We will focus on proper use of safety helmets, hydration and use of sunblock or sunscreens.
When we review the statistical data of the most dangerous sports in America, we commonly think first of sports that involve biomechanical trauma, like football or hockey. But, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number one sport statistically is basketball, with 572,213 reported emergency room visits.1 The second will probably surprise you. Bicycling has 540,000 reported emergency room visits. Of these injuries, over 67,000 are head injuries, of which 700 annually result in death. Research shows that bike helmets that are fitted properly and meet safety requirements can prevent 85 percent of these injuries.2 It is quite common today to see someone who cycles, roller blades, snowboards or skateboards wearing a helmet for protection from head injuries. Twenty-two states actually have laws that require the use of helmets when cycling, and another 192 localities (counties, cities, townships) require helmets.2
Bicycling has 540,000 reported emergency room visits.
Of these injuries, over 67,000 are head injuries,
of which 700 annually result in death.
How do you know what is a good helmet for you and your family when you are out searching? I would recommend you go to a professional cycling shop. They will have staff that should be trained in giving sound recommendations on cost, usage and proper fitting. If you do not have the luxury of a professional cycling shop in your area, look for a sticker on the inside of the helmet that reads “CPSC,” meaning it meets the US Consumer Product Safety Commission standard. Other stickers you may come across indicating the helmet meets standards for safety are ASTM’s “F1447” or Snell’s “B-95.”
After purchasing a helmet, your next thought is, “When do I replace a helmet?” It is recommended that you replace any helmet when you crash. Impact stresses or crushes the foam and can crack the shell and, most of the time, the damage may not be visible. In the industry, most manufacturers recommend replacement after five years. For additional information, contact the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) at www.helmets.org.
Today, through marketing, we are bombarded with commercials about energy drinks and sports drinks. For the average consumer—and especially our patients who may ask us for recommendations—it can become very overwhelming. You can spend a lot of time researching and talking with different sales people who will always be able to point out why their products are the best. Thankfully, most research still shows that the best form of hydration is good old water, or H2O. The type of sports our patients participate in can also affect our recommendations for hydration needs.
There are some common recommendations that deal with hydration when dealing with sports participation:
Drink 15-20 oz, two to three hours before exercising.
Drink 8-10 oz, ten to fifteen minutes before exercising.
Drink 8-10 oz every 10-15 minutes.
If your exercise or activity lasts around 60-90 minutes, 8-10 oz of a sports drink with no more than 8 percent carbohydrates every 15-20 minutes.
It is recommended that you weigh yourself both before and after exercising; this also helps in determining fluid replacement. Drink 20-24 oz for every “one pound” loss. Consider using a 4:1 ratio for carbohydrate-to-protein within two hours after exercise to replenish glycogen stores.
We mentioned the importance of weighing in before and after exercising. This can be an easy guideline to help with replacement needs after exercising, but it is also well documented that a 2 percent loss of body weight places you in a baseline of dehydration. The easiest way to prevent dehydration is by staying hydrated and following the above recommendations.
I am commonly asked, “Can I drink too much water?” The answer to this is, “YES!” It is more common in marathons and ultra endurance sports. The condition is referred to as hyponatremia and it is caused by a low sodium concentration.
Lastly, with more and more people being diagnosed with skin cancers every year, it is important to remind our patients to wear some type of protection when out in the sun. Simple precautions to reduce potential sun damage start with wearing appropriate clothing, the use of a hat or cap, wearing sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of UV rays and the use of sunblocker or sunscreen. It is recommended that at least a 15 SPF (sun protection factor) be used. Remind your patients to apply it often and explain to them that water and sweat will reduce the effectiveness of sunscreens. This applies to the use of water resistant products also.
A 1980 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, Dr. Kirk Lee is a member of the Palmer College of Chiropractic Post Graduate Faculty and Parker College of Chiropractic Post Graduate Faculty. He has lectured nationwide on sports injuries and the adolescent athlete, and currently practices in Albion, Michigan.