How to Avoid Winter Sports Injuries

Editor’s note: Consult your physician before starting any new exercise program. If it hurts, stop immediately.


When temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall, many people can’t wait to hit the slopes or ice rink. They think about winter fun, not harm. However, accidents can easily happen if you are not fully prepared for your favorite activities.

According to statistics, nearly 200,000 people were injured while participating in winter sports in 2018 US Consumer Product Safety Commission. These injuries are mainly from skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding and tobogganing. Sprains, strains, dislocations, and fractures are common, but so are concussions and other head injuries.

In fact, head injuries account for 20 percent of the approximately 600,000 ski and snowboard-related injuries that occur each year in North America, according to a study Published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

“Of course, our biggest concern is head injuries,” says Dr. Brian Cole, an orthopedic surgeon at Rush Midwestern Orthopedic Hospital in Chicago. “In situations where the speed is uncontrolled and you hit a tree or a lamppost, these can be very important.”

When participating in winter sports, many head injuries can be avoided simply by wearing a helmet.

Dr. Scott Smith, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist with the Texas Orthopedic, Sports and Rehabilitation Association in Austin, said many head injuries could have been prevented simply by wearing a helmet, especially when young people may not be willing to do so. Do. “But it’s worth it because you Yes will fall. ”

Whether it’s a helmet, skis or skates, it’s essential to check your gear before heading out to make sure it’s in good condition. Proper winter clothing is key, and having enough water on hand to prevent dehydration – something that’s often overlooked in winter.

Another smart move is to exercise with a buddy rather than alone. That way, if you get hurt, someone will be there to help you. Pay attention to weather and terrain, especially early in the season when temperature fluctuations can affect snow and ice, Kerr said.

It’s also important to do some dynamic stretches before you start an activity to warm up your muscles and know your capabilities so you don’t climb hills or do movements that are beyond your ability. Take a break and stop before you get overtired.

Skate in the same direction as others to have fun on the ice and watch out for holes and debris.

“The most likely time for a skiing injury is the last run,” says Dr. Erin Nance, an orthopedic surgeon at Nance MD in New York. “That’s always the case because you’re tired. When you’re tired, you’re not as focused on your technique.”

Since spills can occur in many winter sports, you should learn how to fall properly. Mainly, don’t stick out your hand to try and stop your fall, says Nance, who specializes in hand surgery. “You want to roll up so your upper body can take the brunt of the fall,” she says. “That way you’re less likely to have catastrophic ligament tears or fractures.”

Some winter sports injuries are more common in certain sex or age groups. Cole sees a lot of snowmobile injuries in his young patients, snowmobile injuries in middle-aged men, and downhill skiing injuries in women, especially ACL tears in the knee.

Downhill Skiing Kids Often Suffer From Spirals tibial fracture on top of their ski boots, Nance said. Although their feet and ankles are secured in ski boots, the area above remains unprotected.While skiing, common injuries to children are growth plate fracture In hands, especially those not wearing wrist braces, which she recommends.Novice skiers without wrist braces are four times more likely to injure their wrists than those who wear them, it is claimed a study Published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Sled ahead in areas free of obstacles such as trees. And keep an eye out for any bystanders.

Older adults tend to trip and break bones during winter sports, while younger adults are more prone to strains and sprains, surgeons say.One of the most common injuries adults suffer while skiing downhill is skier’s thumb, torn ligament. While skier’s thumb is not a serious injury by itself, it can turn into a serious injury if left untreated.

“If you get a diagnosis right away, it’s a simple ligament repair,” Nance said. “But if you don’t get it checked, six weeks later it hurts to pick up your coffee cup – that’s the most common complaint I hear – and now you need a ligament reconstruction. Now you have a long-term problem.”

So how do you know when to seek medical attention after a fall? See your doctor if your joints are swollen or painful after a fall, says Kerr. The same goes for numbness, tingling, or extreme weakness in the joint.

After a blow to the head, watch out for dizziness, visual disturbances, light intolerance, memory loss and headaches, he said. All of these are indications that you should seek medical attention.

Here are additional exercise-specific safety tips.

Attend class If you are new to the sport.

Wear a well-maintained and well-fitting helmet, as well as protective eyewear.

realized Changing weather and snow conditions and other skiers.

Ski only on designated trails, Smith said. “If you slip out of bounds and get hurt, then no one knows you’re there,” he said.

Skate in the same direction as other skaters to avoid danger.

Watch for cracks, holes, and debris in the ice.

Do not chew gum or eat candy while skating.

Make sure the skates you rent are the right size, says Nance. “You need skates that are the right size and strapped on really tight because it all starts with stability,” she says. “Adults should lace up kids’ skates for them.”

sled feet first, not head down. Sitting up is also better.

Sled in an area free of obstacles such as trees or fences.

Be aware of potential hazards hiding under the snow.

If a crash is imminent, roll off the sled.

Stay alert, even if you’re not riding a sled. “I often see bystanders not paying attention and the sledge comes off them and takes their legs off them,” Nance said. “It happens at least once a day.”

Melanie Laziki McManus is a freelance writer specializing in hiking, travel and fitness.

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