Lately, athletes of all ages have been coming into our practice with injuries. The season of competitive sports among school-age children is now in full swing, and accidents happen. Pulled muscles, broken bones, sprained ankles and dislocated shoulders as well as bumps, scrapes and bruises are all part of the territory.

Recent studies call for better attention to the proper care, diagnosis and treatment for sports injuries. It is always best to take a “better safe than sorry” approach and notify your doctor when an injury occurs. Serious injuries, such as concussions, can have long-term effects unless they receive prompt, proper attention.

Weekend warriors like myself are getting in those last days of outdoor activity. I am an avid runner, and I know it is important to take extra precaution this time of year.

Here are tips I share with my patients and follow myself:

Wear and use reflective gear to increase visibility. The dark mornings and early nightfall, plus storm conditions, mean cyclists, walkers and runners are camouflaged. Make sure others can see you through clothing and equipment.

Navigate carefully – Be aware of slippery spots due to rain, leaves and the like. Footwear with good tread is recommended for everyone.

Hydrate – continue to drink water and beverages to replace liquids. Don’t be fooled by the cooler temperatures – your body still needs proper hydration.

Dress in layers – the weather is changing and windbreakers, turtlenecks and even hats or gloves and thicker socks may be needed. Focus on staying dry during these damp fall days.

Invest in and use protective gear – protective prescription eyewear may seem like an added expense but young athletes and even adults can be seriously injured without the benefit from properly fitting, motion-resistant eyewear, helmets and the like.

Warm up and cool down – Flexing, stretching and listening to your body all make for healthier and more enjoyable exercise.

When hurt, seek professional help. Call your physician, go to the Emergency Department or Immediate Care Center and let a medical professional declare you fit for a return to the playing field or exercise.

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