How to Prevent Winter Sports Injuries - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on January 11, 2017

How to Prevent Winter Sports Injuries

How to Prevent Winter Sports Injuries

The most common injuries, including sprains,
strains, dislocations and fractures, happen from
a slip or fall.

Whether your bombing down your favorite triple-black-diamond run or skiing the easiest bunny slope on the mountain, winter sports injuries can happen in the blink of an eye. Last year, more than 246,000 people were treated for injuries related to skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding and tubing. The most common injuries happen from a slip or fall and include sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures.

An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, so your best strategy is to avoid situations that increase your chances for these types of injuries. Before you bundle up and prepare to hit the slopes, follow this advice:

  • Stretch and warm up: Keep in mind that you’re participating in a sport, even if you’re only sledding down the local hill with your children. Take time to stretch and warm up so that your muscles, ligaments and tendons are flexible. It will help you avoid strains and sprains.
  • Know your limits: You should be physically fit before participating in a winter sport. Since gravity is doing some of the work to get you down the hill in sports such as skiing, it’s easy to overestimate your abilities and take on too much, too fast.
  • Don’t push for that last run: Most winter sports injuries happen at the end of the day when you’re tired and less alert. While it can be tempting to ski one more slope or ice skate for a few more minutes, listen to your body. If you’re tired or sore, it’s time to stop before you suffer an injury.
  • Always bring a friend: Participating in a winter sport alone is not a good idea. If an injury occurs, having someone with you ensures that you’ll receive timely medical treatment. Being injured, immobile and exposed to harsh winter conditions with no one around to assist will compound your problems.
  • Take a lesson: If you’re new to a sport or participating after a long hiatus, take a lesson with an expert. They can provide tips and techniques to keep you safe and injury free. They can also help you improve your skills so you’ll get more enjoyment from the sport you’re participating in.
  • Stay alert and be aware of the warning signs: Watch for posted signs warning about the dangers of thin ice and dangerous cliffs. Continually scan the area, even if you’re familiar with the surroundings, for new hazards since your last visit. Never wear headphones or other gear that could restrict your hearing or eyesight.
  • Stay hydrated: Although you may not feel hot since you’ll be outside in the cold, you will still perspire while participating in winter sports. The most common recommendation is to follow the 8x8 rule: eight ounces of water, eight times per day. However, you may need to drink more if your activity level is high. Staying hydrated allows your body to perform optimally and keeps you alert, which will help you avoid situations that lead to injuries.

Even if you take all of these precautions, accidents may still happen. If you suffer an injury while participating in a winter sport, seek immediate medical attention by dialing 911 or by notifying a member of the ski patrol if you’re at a ski resort.

Sports Medicine

Crozer-Keystone's fellowship-trained sports medicine specialists expertly diagnose and treat sports-related injuries to help you return to normal activities. Just as importantly, they teach you preventive methods to keep you in the game and avoid future injuries.

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