Winter has officially started allowing the commencement of winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and ice skating. Millions of people partake in such enjoyable activities, however there are several things to keep in mind to stay safe and prevent injury. Whether you’re hitting the slopes or enjoying some good old-fashioned ice skating at some iconic hotspots like Rockefeller Center or Central Park, ensure you stay injury-free and in good health with the following tips below.
Torn or damaged ACL
Not only is this the number one injury to the knee, it is also the most common injury reported in skiing incidents. They usually occur when you’re in a “sitting position,” a commonly held position when you’re skiing down a bumpy slope or landing jumps. When you bend your hips and knees, your leg naturally points inwards, leaving you vulnerable to injury if outside forces act upon you and push your feet outward.
Those that have suffered from a skier’s thumb injury have injured their UCL, or ulnar collateral ligament, the soft tissue which connects their bones to their thumb. It is a common injury upon skiers due to the way they catch their falls; when you fall with your hand stretched out, it creates a strain on your palm, leaving the ligament prone to tearing or stretching.
Although most skiing injuries occur to your lower extremities, when you use your hands and upper body for balance, like in snowboarding, your upper extremities are susceptible to injury. A shoulder dislocation, which is when the humeral head falls out of its socket, usually occurs when you fall and land on your shoulder. While it can be difficult to be conscious of how you fall in the heat of the moment, practicing proper fall techniques will help tremendously.
Ankle sprains are very common, especially when participating in winter sports. An ankle sprain injury occurs when the ligaments that hold your foot to your leg become torn. This can occur when you lose balance and land on your feet funny. It can occur after landing and twisting or turning your ankle in an awkward way.
The knees tend to absorb a lot of shock, especially during high impact activities such as skiing and snowboarding. The most common knee injury is to the MCL, or media collateral ligament; in fact, it accounts for almost a quarter of all ski injuries. It occurs when excessive force is applied to the knee while it is bent or when you catch an edge and your ski goes outwards.
Minimize your risk of injury with these tips below:
Do not overexert yourself. When you’re tired, you aren’t as alert or focused, allowing more room for error. Do not push your limits as doing so will only increase your risk of injury.
Stretch and warm up. Muscles that have been warmed up are relaxed and less prone to injury. Prelude your exercise with some light stretching to ensure your muscles are good to go.
Wear the appropriate gear. Ensure that you’re properly dressed from head to toe for your winter activities. Almost half of all sports injuries occur to the head so it’s always wise to wear a helmet, no matter which sport you’re partaking in. Additionally, wear boots with treads to prevent slips and falls; knee pads and shoulder pads also help.
Land or fall in the correct manner. Even though it is a natural reaction, avoid using your hands and arms to break a fall; roll into it naturally to lessen the force of impact and minimize your risk of injury. If possible, use your buttocks to land a fall and point your toes forward and not outwards. Tense muscles tend to be more prone to injury so while the thought of falling is terrifying, try to stay as relaxed as possible.
Stay hydrated. Summer heat can make you thirsty but when the weather is cold, you tend to forget to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and keep a bottled water handy at all times.
Buddy up. Pair up with someone before enjoying your winter sports. You wouldn’t want to be alone should something happen. Besides, going with someone means more people to enjoy with!
Treat your injury properly. When you’re hurt, remember RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate. This is imperative to ensuring you do not cause further damage.