Weekend Warriors: Stretching to Combat Sprains and Strains

Lanham, MD – The warm days and cool nights of summer encourages many to get on their feet and enjoy sports and other outdoor activities. Being active is a great way to stay healthy, but it is important to prepare to reduce the likelihood of injuries.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly two million people suffer sports-related injuries and receive treatment in emergency departments every year[1]. Taking care to stretch and warm-up before strenuous workouts or sports activities can protect the joints, muscles and summer fun.

Jeff Wright, physical therapists and director of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program at Doctors Community Hospital, shares his expert tips on preparing for an active summer and knowing when it’s time to seek medical care. 

Why is preparation so important?

Stretching can help improve joint flexibility and range of motion. Also, it allows muscles to work most effectively, potentially improving athletic performance and decreasing injury risks.

Moreover, stretching and warming up can increase blood flow to muscles, which can prevent cramps. Muscle cramps are not only painful, but potentially dangerous as they can lead to falls or increase the risk of drowning while swimming. Stretches and warm-ups can also prevent unintended injuries like muscle tears and strains.

What is the best way to prepare for sports or exercises?

When warming up before sports or exercises, remember to:

  • Start with a light jog or walk before stretching—stretching cold muscles can lead to injuries.
  • Focus on major muscle groups—calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders.
  • Avoid bouncing while stretching to avoid injuries.
  • Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and breathe normally.
  • Stop if pain is experienced while stretching.
  • Stretch specific muscles used for the exercise or sport to be played first.  For example, soccer players should include stretching their hamstrings during warm-up routines.

What should people do if they experience muscle pains or simple strains during physical activities? 

Most muscle pains during physical activities are caused by simple strains and can be treated at home with R.I.C.E. therapy.

  • Rest: take a break from the activity
  • Ice: apply an ice pack to the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes, three times a day
  • Compression: use a compression bandage to reduce swelling
  • Elevation: raise the affected area to reduce swelling

When should people see a doctor or physical therapist?

If the muscle pain remains or worsens after a few days of home treatment, consult a doctor. Also, if severe muscle pain is experienced or is accompanied with redness, swelling or a rash, people should contact their doctors.  Any time serious tears or breaks are suspected, people should immediately go to an emergency department. 

Get Back in the Game

Doctors Community Hospital’s Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program provides a wide range of services to help people maintain or improve their physical mobility, body functions and quality of life.  Our licensed, certified and experienced therapists deliver compassionate care and develop personalized treatment plans.  From muscle pains to hamstring injuries, our Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program is dedicated to helping people get back in the game and enjoying active lives.  To learn more, visit DCHrehab.org or call 301-DCH-4YOU (301-324-4968).



About Doctors Community Hospital

Doctors Community Hospital is a premier medical and surgical hospital located in Lanham, Maryland.   With a mission of being dedicated to passionately caring for the health of patients and the community, the hospital has provided high-quality as well as comprehensive health care to residents of Prince George's County and the region for nearly 40 years.


A non-profit and 190+ bed facility, Doctors Community Hospital has a wide range of specialty programs and services. 

For more information, please visit DCHweb.org or call 301-DCH-4YOU (301-324-4968).