Now that we’ve survived the countless high school and college graduation parties, the monotonous three-hour ceremonies, dinners with the in-laws, finally, summer is upon us. The out of town visitors have flown back to their Midwest and Northeast homes, leaving the pools, malls, and hiking trails free at last for the locals to enjoy. I recommend that anyone who has had a past injury and is looking to have some fun in the sun to first check in at one of our Foothills Sports Medicine locations for hands on physical therapy. But if you’re ready to go, here are some healthy tips to make sure you enjoy your summer break.
Take a Hike, but Do It Right
In the valley of the sun, we have more than 41,000 acres of desert and mountain preserves and over 200 miles of marked trails. There’s practically a mountain or trail to hike everywhere you turn. Here are a few tips to maximize health and safety while you hike or bike.
Avoid Midday Heat
The sun’s UV rays are strongest between the hours of 10am and 4pm when the sun is highest in the sky. Try scheduling your next hike to be early in the morning. Once your hike is finished you can reward yourself with a local cold pressed juice or fresh acai bowl. Don’t forget to eat some protein within 30 minutes of physical activity to help rebuild your strength.
Bring and Drink Water
Hydrating before physical activity is key to preventing dehydration out on the trail. Bring plenty of water with you in a bladder or bottle sold at local sporting goods stores.
A hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are a must all summer long. While sunglasses and a hat and are always effective, sunscreen needs to be re-applied often when outdoors, even in water.
Keep in Contact or Bring a Friend
Avoid hiking alone unless you have a mobile phone with you in case of emergency. Many smart watches now have GPS capabilities, which can help you if you get lost. Keep your furry friends at home till the temps cool down. They’re prohibited on all city of Phoenix trails if its 100 degrees or warmer.
Don’t Trail Blaze
Stay on the trail and marked paths when hiking this summer for your safety, as well as to protect our beautiful desert preserves. Going off the trail could result in a painful brush up with a spiny cholla cactus or a dangerous rattlesnake. Always take a look at the trail map and plan accordingly.
Mall walking is a great way to get some free A/C and burn calories. Most valley malls open their doors prior to store hours for just this purpose. Chandler Fashion Center opens at 6am, Scottsdale Fashion Square at 7am, and Arizona Mills at 8am every day except holidays. If you can refrain from the temptation to window shop, head to your local mall for some urban hiking.
What once was just a gooey sticky lotion now comes in all shapes and sizes to make wearing sunscreen less of a hassle. For each type of sunscreen, remember to check the expiration date. The active ingredients in sunscreens do not last forever, and exposing the bottles to heat and sun can further degrade sunscreen. Throw out old sunscreen left last year in the boat or with the pool toys, and pick up new a product for 2017.
- Lotions: These are good for a first application before activity. Make sure to apply to tops of ears, feet, and forehead.
- Sprays: Ideal for re-application during activity while keeping your hands mess free!
- Powders: Many mineral make-up brands now come in travel size brush applicators, which I have found to be great for faces, hands, and décolletage.
- Sticks: Perfect for protecting fresh scars and incisions. I recommend this type sunscreen for all my patients to avoid a sunburned scar.
Summer is the time for fun in the sun, but living in Arizona presents its own set of challenges. My tips will help you stay safe throughout our hottest months. The trails are clear, the sports fields have vacancy, and many of us have some free time. To help get you prepared for the upcoming season, stop by one of our Foothills Sports Medicine locations for hands on physical therapy. Our amazing team love our patients, and will get you on track to dominate the miles of bike paths in our great city.