Summertime means lots of outdoor time for folks around the Black Hills. We spend many long winter months in cold and snow so when summer arrives, we want to spend as much time as possible in the sun. There’s nothing better on a hot day than splashing in the cool waters of Lake Pactola or Angostura, or skipping along by Rapid Creek. People who live in the Black Hills are also known for being very active, particularly during our sunny season and that includes our love for watersports. Everybody’s looking for a way to cool down during the hottest days of summer and luckily, we have plenty of lakes, streams and waterways to beat the heat.

But watersports can mean injuries if we’re not cautious. The most likely injuries caused by watersports are sprains to ankles or knees, but more serious injuries could impact your head or neck. That includes neck sprains, whiplash and even lacerations.

So, it’s important to take caution when we are playing on the water on our skis or rafting, windsurfing and wakeboarding. With some preemptive care, we can all make sure that we stay safe this summer. First, the better shape you are in, the less you will need to do to prepare for your time on the water. Be rested, hydrated and well-stretched before you begin your water activity. Carefully assess the equipment you will be using and make sure it is in very good condition. And of course, see your chiropractor before you head out for that lake outing. They’ll be a good judge of whether you’re in the shape needed for rigorous water activity or maybe should just spend your time lounging on the boat.

A key factor to safe activity on the water is to carefully assess the equipment and conditions. Is the equipment in good shape, not worn out or faulty? What are the conditions on the water and with the weather, that day in question? Check the forecast and verify weather conditions. Is there wind that day? Wind can have a significant impact on lake conditions. Remember that it is easier to determine and assess these factors before you’re out on the lake and actually zipping around. If you’re not sure how to use the equipment in question, have a professional demonstrate the proper usage.

Posture can also be key to safely enjoying your watersports activities. There are proper positions to be in for wakeboarding and jet skiing – make sure you are enjoying these as designed. Watch for twisting movement around the waist and hips – this can trigger other injuries and problems like lower-back issues. And when you do experience a minor injury, like an ankle sprain or pulled muscle, it’s time to come up out of the water and take care of your injury. Make sure you keep ice packs in your cooler for those small injuries earned on the water as well as a first aid kit handy for your lake outings.

Have fun this summer!

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