During the winter season, many sports enthusiasts head to the slopes for skiing or snowboarding. For many families, a week on the slopes is an annual trip. But should we be so blase about the safety of these sports?
Unfortunately, there are some high-profile accidents every now and then that make headlines and remind us that winter sports carry serious risks. Indeed, Natasha Richardson, actress and wife of Liam Neeson, and Michael Schumacher, the German racing driver, are real-life examples that even being a famous actress or an F1 champion doesn’t mean we are immune to devastating injuries on the slopes.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, around 200,000 people were hospitalized from winter sports injuries during 2018. In detail:
- 76,000 injuries were from snow skiing
- 53,000 injuries were from snowboarding
- 48,000 injuries were from ice skating
- 22,000 injuries were from sledding and tobogganing
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should hang up your skis in the closet and replace them with a ping pong table. All you need to do is be aware of the potential dangers, be careful, and be prepared.
Some of the most common injuries that occur during winter sports include sprains, strains, dislocations, and fractures. All of these can often be prevented. Below are some tips that you should keep in mind before taking part in a winter sport:
If you aren’t warmed up properly, you won’t be able to function at your best. Do some stretches and light exercise beforehand.
Check your equipment.
Does everything work as it’s supposed to? Are you missing anything? Make sure to properly examine your gear before you head out to the slopes.
Make sure you’re dressed in protective equipment. Helmets, gloves, and goggles are essential. Your clothing should be well-padded in case you fall. Wear layered, wind-resistant clothing that’s not too tight. Your footwear should keep your feet dry and warm.
Follow the rules.
If you don’t know how to perform your sport correctly, consider taking lessons with an instructor, especially for more advanced sports like skiing or snowboarding. If you take the correct approach, you’ll minimize risk of injury.
Monitor the weather.
There may be a snowstorm approaching or the temperature outside may be extremely low. If the weather isn’t optimal or moderate, stay inside to avoid the risk of frostbite or hypothermia.
Don’t go out alone.
Unless you’re a very experienced athlete, you should always hit the slopes in groups or with a friend. That way, if something happens, you won’t be left alone.
Drink lots of water while you’re outside, despite the cold.
Learn how to fall.
In the event that you do take a tumble, you need to learn how to fall properly. A trained instructor can show you exactly how to land to minimize damage.
And, of course, if you’re experiencing pain of any sort, do not exercise. The cold helps numb pain, and many people keep exercising without realizing that they have a sprain or fracture. If you feel too tired or sore to continue, head back inside.
Following this advice can help you avoid a serious sports injury or worse. Always take the necessary precautions before heading out to the slopes, so you can both enjoy yourself in the moment and go back year after year.