Winter is upon us and with it comes a whole new array of sports and activities to keep us moving through these colder months. As we start to pull out the skis, snowboards, sleds and ice skates, let’s not forget that there are still precautions that need to be followed to help prevent injuries. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, winter sports-related injuries accounted for over 440,000 visits to the ER, hospitals and doctors’ offices in 2010. These included 58,500 injuries from ice skating, 91,000 from tobogganing and sledding, 144,000 injuries due to skiing and 148,000 from snowboarding.
The most common impairments include fractures, sprains, strains and dislocations. Following some simple guidelines, proper preparation and listening to your body can keep you moving right into warm-weather sports without missing a beat!
If you are active throughout the year, you’re off to a great start! Being well conditioned and in shape will certainly reduce your risk for harm. As always, just as with any activity, a good warm-up is necessary to help loosen up cold-tight muscles, ligaments and tendons. If you haven’t been on an exercise program, it would be good to start one prior to partaking in these sports to help build your strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. And, don’t forget even in cold weather you need to stay well hydrated and use sunblock throughout the day.
If you’re new to the winter sport arena, taking lessons are a great way to get started. Something as simple as learning how to fall properly can decrease the risk of injury. Make sure all the equipment you need for your sport is in proper working condition before getting out there and participating, as well as wearing suitable clothing and footwear. Having layers of loose fitting-water and wind resistant clothes will help with temperature changes in your body. You also want footwear that will offer sufficient ankle support with warmth and dryness.
Be aware of the rules for your activity and follow them closely. Also be sure to check weather conditions and listen to warnings regarding upcoming storms or drastic temperature drops.
Lastly, make sure you know the procedures at the facility for getting help if someone is hurt and never participate alone in these cold weather sports. If you are in pain or become exhausted, listen to your body! Continuing under those circumstances only put you more at risk for an injury.
Now it’s time to go show Mother Nature that she can’t stop us from being active and having fun just because it’s cold! Enjoy.