SATURDAY, Aug. 11, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Many Americans enjoy outdoor summer sports and exercise, but they need to take precautions to prevent health problems, a sports medicine expert warns.
"The warm summer weather draws people outdoors and young athletes are also often participating in competitive sports tournaments," Dr. Laith Jazrawi, an associate professor in the orthopedic surgery department at NYU Langone Medical Center and chief of sports medicine at the Center for Musculoskeletal Care, said in a medical center news release.
"All these activities are important for the heart, lungs and muscles but people should remember to use some caution to avoid heat-related dangers as well as overuse injuries," Jazrawi noted.
If you plan to play competitive sports or start an exercise program in the summer, check with your doctor, particularly if you have existing health concerns.
Remember to monitor weather conditions and drink fluids before, during and after exercise or playing sports. If you wait until you are thirsty, it may be too late to properly hydrate.
Even in the summer, it's important to gently warm up muscles and tendons before playing sports. And after being physically active outdoors, you need to give your body time to cool down before you go into a significantly different environment, such as an air-conditioned building, Jazrawi said.
Overuse injuries are common among young athletes, and summer travel teams and tournaments can pressure young athletes to push themselves hard and potentially over-train. The risk of overuse injuries can be reduced by cross training, alternating sports from one season to another and taking a few weeks off from playing.
In addition, parents and young athletes should know the symptoms of concussions and be aware of organized sports programs' policies for dealing with them. Anyone who is believed to have suffered a concussion should immediately be removed from play, Jazrawi said.
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about sports injuries.