Have fun in sun, prevent injuries

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Natasha Stannard
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Spring is here bringing not only sunny days and warmer weather, but the opportunity to enjoy outside workouts.

Before people step outside to exercise, the 52nd Fighter Wing Safety Office and 52nd Medical Operations Squadron Physical Therapy Flight recommend they consider following rules of the road and injury prevention tips to include:

· Where mobile music listening devices are authorized
· Where it's safe to run on base
· How to avoid heat injuries
· How to avoid physical injuries

Those who enjoy listening to music with headphones or ear buds on while running, walking, bicycling or skating on base must make sure they do so only on sidewalks and marked running paths like the track and running trails.

If people want to run on the sidewalk, they have to remove ear buds or headphones every time they cross the street, said Master Sgt. Anthony Blodgett, 52nd FW ground safety manager.

"Once you hit the road, phones or buds must come off," he said.

People may not hear a vehicle behind them if they have earphones in, which is especially dangerous if they are running where vehicles are driving.

Blodgett said the safest places to run on base are the wooded running trail by the military working dog area and the track because they are both away from vehicle roadways.

He also said people should stay well hydrated, wear sunscreen and know their limitations. If people try to exceed limitations, they could stress and strain their bodies.

Maj. Linda Currier, 52nd MDOS Physical Therapy Flight commander and physical therapist, added people should incorporate dynamic stretches to warm up the body at the beginning of their workouts. This form of stretching prepares the body for physical exertion by increasing range of motion and blood and oxygen flow prior to workouts. Examples of dynamic stretches are leg swing and arm circles.

Static stretches should be done at the end of workouts, she added. Static stretching stretches muscles when the body is at rest. This type of stretch involves various techniques to lengthen a muscle to an elongated position and hold that position for 30 seconds to one minute. A good static stretch is the hamstring stretch, in which people sit with one leg straight out and the other bent in, and bend with their back straight to reach for their toes on the stretched leg.

When people increase intensity of speed, distance, time and frequency they should do so in 10 percent increments per week and change only one variable. For example, if someone wants to increase the amount of time they run from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, they would add 10 percent of 30; three minutes; per week to their running time until they reach 60 minutes. If people try to increase too much, they could suffer injuries from not training their muscles gradually.

People should also focus on form and working corresponding muscle groups during exercise, she said.

It's important to balance out workouts to strengthen the entire body, she continued. For example, when people exercise their chest, they should exercise their back as well to support all the muscles in the worked area. Having the right form also reduces injury. Runners should avoid striking their heels down as this causes impact throughout the leg and spine; instead, they should run lightly on the balls of their feet.

Currier recommends people rest, ice, compress and elevate -- or R.I.C.E. -- the affected limb when an injury is suffered.

With any workout regimen or activity, it's best to evaluate the situation and environment, Blodgett said.

"Whatever you're going to do, off or on duty, assess the situation and consider options to limit risk and take appropriate action," he said.