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It's just a game

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- With summer right around the corner, many military members participate in sporting activities more often, which increases chances of injury.

Playing hard, however, doesn't have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic lifestyle is to play it safe from the start.

"You want to make sure all players are aware of the rules of the game prior to starting, and if you're going to play a contact sport, go and get a free mouth guard from the dental clinic," said Tech. Sgt. Noel Martinez, 48th Fighter Wing Safety Office NCO in charge of ground safety.

Before starting any workout or sporting activity, members need to make sure to stretch and ensure their equipment is in good working order.

"Always warm up properly and play within your limits," said Tech. Sgt. Scott Richard, 48th Fighter Wing Safety Office ground safety technician. "Ensure appropriate equipment and footwear is in good condition, and if you are prone to easy sprains, wear the appropriate brace to prevent injury."

In addition to maintaining proper care of your sporting equipment, it is also important to take care of your body, while playing in warm weather.

"Make sure you are properly hydrated especially when it's hot and always avoid alcohol when playing sports," said Richard.

He also said, once the sporting event is over; ensure time is given for a proper cool down.

As a military member it is important to remember that part of your job is to be fit to fight, and if you are injured during a sporting event, you may not be able to fully support the mission.

"You are not a professional athlete, do not try and play like one. If you get injured when playing sports, make sure you know your unit's mishap reporting procedures," said Martinez.

For further information on how to stay safe while playing sports, go to your unit safety representative or call the safety office at 226-3737.