In summer, boys and girls are often found playing baseball, soccer and other organized sports, but a growing number of active Americans enjoy the outdoors in other ways. The natural beauty of Kentucky offers tremendous opportunity for outdoor adventures; however, participants should be aware of how to prevent common injuries.
Appropriate preparation is a must for any sport. This refers not only to technique and equipment, but more generally to physical conditioning. Most athletes who have never run more than four miles would not attempt a marathon. Along the same lines, an all-day kayak trip, for example, should be met with the requisite training, with rest throughout the effort. In addition, an emergency plan and contacts should always be in place.
The Red River Gorge's amazing sandstone cliffs are a top international destination for rock climbers. Both beginners and experts alike are often beset with finger injuries. The skin must be conditioned to the abrasive quality of the rock. Small, irregular holds and tremendous gripping forces can lead to injuries of the flexor tendons and sheaths that guide them. Also, overuse tendinitis of the elbow and shoulder are common. Many of these injuries can be avoided by a gradually progressive program of intensity and volume in one's climbing.
Kentucky's rolling hills also are a fantastic venue for mountain biking. Cuts and abrasions are extremely common, but most serious injuries come from falls. Often, the shoulder strikes the ground first. This can result in a fracture of the collarbone, or a "separated shoulder," which is a tear in the ligaments that connect the collarbone and the shoulder blade. In addition, overuse strains of the knee and low back can occur. Always wear a helmet — no exceptions.
Kayaking can be an amazing way to pass a summer day. Overuse tendinitis of the elbow and wrist are common with paddling. Significant whitewater can bring not just excitement but new injury concerns. The chance of a shoulder dislocation can be reduced with proper technique in maneuvering the paddle. Strengthening of the core muscles will improve performance and lessen muscle strains. A helmet is mandatory; head-versus-rock collisions are a concern, especially if the kayak has flipped upside down.
Summer is a great time to try new outdoor sports. Be prepared and be safe. If you are injured, consult a specialist familiar with the injuries of your sport. Timely treatment will help you recover more quickly.