I hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful weather that we have been having lately. I am having a great time – I wish we had this type of weather all year long! But, as we all know, winter is just around the corner.
It just so happened that I went out shopping this past weekend with my 7 year old son who wanted to buy some sporting stuff for this winter… you know, the snowboard, and the skiing gear, etc.
I was talking to him about the precautions that he needs to take to avoid injuries this winter. That is when it occurred to me that now would be a great time to also teach my patients and community about Winter Sports Safety as well.
Most of us think that the injuries that frequently result from skiing, skating, and sledding include sprains and muscle strains, dislocations, and fractures. But, they actually have the potential for severe injuries if proper safety precautions are not practiced.
I suggest that everyone take these tips into consideration – both children and adults alike – before partaking in winter sports.
- Check the weather for snow and ice conditions before heading outdoors. For warmth and protection, wear several layers of light, loose, and water- and wind-resistant clothing; layering accommodates the body’s constantly changing temperature.
- Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves, and padding. Check to make sure that all equipment, such as ski and snowboard bindings, is in good working order. Children should wear a helmet for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and even skating.
- Avoid participating in a winter sport alone. If possible, ski with a partner and stay within sight of each other. Observe all marked hazard and trail signs, and do not venture into closed areas.
- Warm up thoroughly before playing because cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are vulnerable to injury!
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after outdoor activities to stay hydrated. Avoid the intake of alcohol, which can increase the chances of hypothermia.
- Keep in shape and condition your muscles before partaking in winter activities.
- Learn how to fall correctly to avoid injury. If skiing, learn how to properly hold the poles with the strap to avoid “skier’s thumb.”
- To help alleviate the risk of anterior cruciate ligament injury, avoid high-risk ski behavior, maintain balance and control, and recognize and respond correctly to dangerous situations.
- Seek shelter and medical attention immediately if you are experiencing hypothermia or frostbite. Early frostbite symptoms include numbness and tingling in your digits, lack of feeling, and poor motion.
- Avoid participating in sports when you are in pain or exhausted.
- Follow up with an orthopedic surgeon if you are injured, especially if pain or discomfort persists.