Here's How to Protect Yourself During Winter Sports - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on January 26, 2016

Here's How to Protect Yourself During Winter Sports

Winter sports pose a risk for injuries, including sprains, strains, fractures and concussions.

Winter sports pose a risk for injuries, including
sprains, strains, fractures and concussions.

With winter weather comes tons of winter fun – skiing, snowboarding, sledding, skating, ice hockey and more. They’re all not only fun, but they get you outside and moving, which is great for your health, especially when the cold and snow could otherwise encourage you stay sedentary inside.

Though these activities are fun and a form of physical activity, they unfortunately also pose a risk of injury. Common injuries associated with these outdoor activities include sprains, strains, fractures and dislocations. As uncomfortable and painful as these injuries can be, there’s one other potential injury you can sustain participating in these winter sports that’s arguably much more serious: head injury.

Winter sports-related head injuries can range from “mild” concussions to full-blown traumatic brain injuries, which are the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults.

Although these head injuries are the result of accidents, there are ways to protect yourself and your children this winter by wearing protective gear. And don’t worry – protective gear won’t compromise your fun.

First and foremost, the number one way to prevent traumatic head injuries during winter sports is to wear a helmet. Sadly, there’s an average of about 11 deaths each year attributed to head injuries that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet. Helmets are effective in reducing about 50 percent of head injuries during skiing and snowboarding.

Helmets are designed to partially absorb the force of a hit or fall and dissipate the energy of that blow, protecting your head. While wearing a helmet, make sure it fits securely on your head – it shouldn’t be able to slide forward, back or side to side.

If you and your helmet experience a serious crash – think collisions with trees, ice and other people – you may need to replace it. Some helmets are built to only withstand one impact.

You can prevent other injuries during skiing and snowboarding by ensuring your equipment fits properly, wearing safety bindings that are adjusted every year, wearing gloves with built-in wrist guards, sticking to slopes that are appropriate for your ability and experience and avoiding areas with obstacles and trees.

Many ski resorts actually require you to wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding on their slopes, but a helmet can also protect your head from an injury while sledding, riding snow mobiles and ice skating.

If you want to ice skate on a lake, pond or river, check the ice before venturing out onto it. And you should never skate or play on ice that forms on moving waters. If your hands are cold, you may be tempted to stick them in your pockets, but don’t do this – if you slip and fall, you’ll need your hands free to catch yourself, preventing facial or dental injuries.

When you take your kids sledding, make sure everyone stays away from motor vehicles. Your sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters. When sledding down a slope, make sure you go down the hill sitting up or feet first instead of lying down or head first. And, speaking of that slope, pick one that doesn’t have any obstructions for you to run into, such as trees or fences covered in ice.

Related Locations

eNewsletter Signup

Our eNewsletters from Crozer-Keystone Health System help keep you up-to-date on your health and well being. View recent editions or sign up to receive our free eNewsletters.