The first snowfall can only mean a few things: skiing, snowboarding and sledding. But some of the best things about the falling temperatures can also be the most dangerous. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the most common winter sports injuries include sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures.
“No matter your skill level, everyone is susceptible to injury on the slopes,” said Allston J. Stubbs, MD, associate professor of orthopaedics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Most of these injuries happen at the end of the day, so you may want to think twice before going for ‘one last run,’ especially when you’re tired.”
To keep you injury-free before, during and after you participate in your favorite winter sport, Stubbs offers the following tips:
- Keep in shape and condition your muscles.
- Warm up thoroughly. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are vulnerable to injury.
- Be a good student. Take a lesson (or several) from a qualified instructor.
- Avoid participating when in pain or exhausted. Fatigue often leads to serious injury.
- Never hit the slopes alone and let people know where you are at all times.
- Wear appropriate apparel such as protective gear, layered clothing, and supportive footwear.
- Sore spots? Apply ice bag to tender areas for 20 minutes. Then take it off for a couple of hours and repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or two.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after activities.
“My advice isn’t meant to take the fun out of winter sports,” said Stubbs. “It’s meant to help keep you on the slopes as much as possible.”