OGDEN -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nearly 5,000 people die each year and more than 78,000 are injured in traffic accidents involving pedestrians and those out exercising.
It's that time of year when more people take their exercising outdoors, whether it's riding a bicycle or running and walking.
Traffic accidents involving cars and exercisers has increased by 9 percent since 2010, according to NHTSA.
"Getting hit by a car while cycling is a huge concern," said Dr. Jeff Sorensen, an orthopedic surgeon at Ogden Clinic. "The most important thing is to make sure you are following all of the rules of the road. If you are cycling, you need to ride in the bicycle lane or on the correct side of the road."
In addition, Sorensen said, cyclists should obey all stop signs and traffic signals. It's also a good idea, especially if you are riding at dusk or early in the morning, to make sure you have a headlight and tail light on your bike.
"Drivers don't hit cyclists on purpose," he said. "They hit cyclists because they can't see them. Make sure you do anything you can so you are visible to drivers. Also, never ride a bike without a helmet."
Sorensen said drivers need to remember that Utah is a very active state with avid cyclists and runners year round.
"Be aware that there are always going to be runners or cyclists out on the road and keep an eye out for them," he said.
While traffic accidents are a concern for exercisers, so are other injuries. Broken bones, torn ligaments and muscles, and simply overdoing it can put you down for weeks.
"As long as you don't have a crash, the main injuries you see in cyclists are overuse injuries," Sorensen said. "I often treat strains, hamstring sprains and iliotibial band syndrome (knee injury) in cyclists. I also see a fair amount of clavicle fractures and wrist fractures when cyclists crash."
Ogden Clinic physical therapist Jon Rhodes said he also sees low back problems and hip pain in cyclists.
Among runners, Sorensen and Rhodes see shin splints, plantar fasciitis, runner's knee and stress fractures to the lower legs.
"I cannot stress enough how important it is to stretch properly," Rhodes said. "One of the biggest things people should do to prevent biking injuries is stretching. You should also make sure to get fit or sized properly to your bike. Physical therapists or bike shops can do this for you, and it will make a world of difference in your performance, as well as prevent potential injuries."
The same goes for runners, Rhodes said.
"We also encourage cross training. Runners don't need to run every single day. It's important to get a mix of cross training or strength training with your regular running routine."
Rhodes said if you give yourself days off, it will actually help your overall time, because you are getting stronger by allowing your muscles to heal on those days off.
It's also important to make sure you have proper shoes and inserts for running, Rhodes said.
"The best way to get into top performance is to start slowly and ease yourself into an exercise routine," Sorensen said. "You can't cram for a marathon. You need to cross train and work into things."
If you are injured, Sorensen and Rhodes said, stop exercising.
"Most endurance athletes try to push through the pain. It's important to listen to your body," Rhodes said. "Pain is an alarm, and it's there for a reason. The sooner you address the pain, the faster you can return to your favorite activities. Be smart and listen to your body."
The best thing you can do is rest, ice, compression and elevation, Sorensen said. If something bothers you for several days or weeks, it's time to get checked out by a physician.
"Treatment depends on the type of injury a person sustains," he said. "At Ogden Clinic Orthopedics we are doing more arthroscopic surgery, which is much less invasive than techniques used in the past five or 10 years."
Rhodes also said the earlier you are treated, the faster you can get back on your feet, and then, don't try to do too much at one time.
"Where you are coming back from an injury, start out slowly,"
Ogden Clinic has a Speed and Agility program designed to take an injured athlete, or an athlete who wants to get faster or stronger, from the beginning level to the next level. The program is structured on an individual basis and conducted through one-on-one training in the clinic's new state-of-the-art facility.
In addition to runners and cyclists, Rhodes said he also treats multiple golfers with low back pain, right shoulder pain, bilateral wrist pain and elbow pain.
"Most of the time, these injuries stem from poor golf technique," he said. "We have created a special golf training room so we can watch people swing and hit at full speeds. This allows us to correct problems and fix the technique."
The golf room at the clinic allows patients and clients to hit golf balls in real time at full speed using a high-tech 3D motion-capture system that tells exactly what a person's body is doing during their golf swing.