Many of us take advantage of warmer weather by participating in outdoor, athletic activities.

For adults and children, simple precautions can decrease the potential for injury.

Two of the most important things to remember are to stretch before you exercise, and ice afterward to cool down overworked muscles and tendons. Another is to wear the right equipment for your activity.

Sprains, such as rolled ankles, are very common.

Occurring much more frequently than breaks, sprains should be treated carefully. Remember RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Additionally, we also recommend anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

Many summer injuries are due to “errors in training.” For example, people often decide to take up running without first engaging in proper physical preparation or wearing the correct shoes. We see a lot of plantar fasciitis in adults and knee injuries in kids.

In plantar fasciitis, the flat tendon that attaches to the heel bone develops micro tears. This can be brought about by traumatic activity such as running on concrete.

In addition the mechanics of flip-flops keep your foot flat, which can overstretch the tendon and bring on plantar fasciitis.

Osgood-Schlatter disease can develop in the knees of kids who participate in traumatic, jumping-type sports, such as basketball, football, cheerleading and running. With this disease, the patella tendon in the knee, which connects the knee to the leg bone, develops microtears. Once again, RICE plus anti-inflammatories and certain braces can help control this chronic condition.

Injuries on wheels

We see many more youth than adult injuries.

I urge parents to equip their children with helmets when riding bikes, scooters and skateboards. Even if there is just a 1 percent chance a driver might not see a child on a bike, that child must be wearing a helmet.

Kids don’t die from broken arms, but they do die from broken heads. Convince your kids that it’s not about looking cool, but being safe.

If you wish to avoid an ER trip from rollerblading, wear a helmet and pads, especially on bike trails. These trails are often bumpy and blades get caught, so be careful about the surface on which you are skating.

Soft tissue

In addition to bone and bone-related injuries, soft tissue can get hurt as well.

It pays to be aware that life-threatening organ injuries can occur in contact sports such as soccer or football.

Remember that in the summer, many kids are playing on their own and without the benefit of protective gear.

If your child gets the wind knocked out of them, check it out. Once they have sustained a heavy hit, look for large bruises, blood in the urine, vomiting or absence of urination.

Conditioning

Today’s children’s sports have reached such heights that parents must think about conditioning their children before exposing them to intense competition.

Their bodies should be used to working out before they participate.

Some gyms now are catering to this need, and have created programs designed to condition kids. It’s a great way for kids to learn how to protect their joints for the long term, as well as train for their particular sport.

Summertime is short and sweet. To help you and your family enjoy it to the fullest, make sure everyone wears the appropriate gear for activities, and that they are properly conditioned before they start.

Dr. Shelanda Hayes is medical director of the Franciscan Express Care clinic in Frankfort.

The clinic is open every day, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Franciscan St. James Health is a member of the Southland Health Alliance.