Winter Sports Safety Tips

Winter Sports Safety Tips

Winter sports are arguably the only redeeming quality winter brings. But with them come injuries, including fractures, sprains, strains, concussions and dislocations.

The location of the injuries varies from sport to sport. For example, snowboarders have a greater incidence of wrist injuries, as well as injuries to the tailbone and concussions.  Knee injuries are more common in skiers.

Fortunately, most of these injuries are preventable. These simple steps can reduce your risk of injury during your favorite winter activity.

Stay in shape and condition muscles prior to participating in winter activities.  This may be a lot to ask for a quick sled ride, but if you can manage to stay in shape you are already ahead of the game.  Once you are on the slopes, don’t go from zero to 60 miles per hour.  Warm up with light exercises or stretches and ease into it. Enjoy a long practice run. After a long break from winter sports, it can be tempting to go all out your first run. Avoid the temptation! Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more prone to injury. 

Don’t be a hero. Always wear the appropriate protective gear for the activity, like helmets, goggles, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads. Before going on the first run, make sure all equipment is in good working order. Even the most seasoned winter sports fanatics fall from time to time, so learn how to fall.  Shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries can result from trying to brace a fall. Take a lesson or two from a trained instructor if you never have. They can provide direction on how to fall correctly. They will also teach you how to follow safety rules. For example, stay within the marked ski and snowboard trails and learn how to get on and off the ski lift.

Also, know your limits. Choose slopes and maneuvers that match your skill level. And while the days are short, stop when you are tired. Accidents are more likely to occur when you’re fatigued. Also, remember to layer up. Clothes that become damp from sweat can lower your body temperature. Wear a breathable base layer, one or two insulating layers, and a water and windproof outer layer to ensure you stay warm and dry.  And, as with any physical activity, stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after the activity.  Finally, remember that staying safe will keep you on the slopes. Suffering an injury on your first run will ruin your season! While sitting in the lodge by the fire sounds nice, you’ll kick yourself if you miss out on the winter fun.

Keep these safety tips in mind when playing your favorite winter sport.