Ward Off Winter Sports Injuries
Every winter, emergency rooms and physician offices across the country are busy attending to sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, contusions and other injuries sustained from participation in seasonal sports, like skiing, snowboarding, skating and sledding. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 700,000 injuries from these wintertime activities were reported in 2007 alone.
Cold weather recreation need not be harmful. Most associated injuries can be easily prevented by taking precautions and playing it smart. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers the following advice:
- Stay in shape and warm up cold muscles beforehand.
- Layer your clothing to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature. Light, loose, wind- and water-resistant tops and bottoms, as well as high collars, adjustable drawstrings and clothing that has flaps to cover zippers, are recommended. And don’t forget about a headband or hat—60% of heat is lost through the head.
- Wear appropriate gear, including helmets, goggles or sunglasses, padding, wrist guards and gloves. Skiers, skaters and snowboarders also should don proper footwear that supports the ankles and keeps the feet warm and dry.
- Check to make sure your equipment is working correctly and that you fully understand how to operate it.
- Take a lesson or two from an instructor—especially if you’re a beginner—and follow the rules of your sport.
- Drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration.
- Buddy up and stay in sight of one another.
- Stick to marked trails and look out for ice patches and rocks.
- Heed weather warnings about temperature drops, storms, ice and other adverse conditions.
- Bring along a first aid kit that includes a heat pack, an ice pack, support bandages, compression wraps, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications. And know how to get help should injury occur.
- Rest when you feel tired, and refrain from participating at all if you are exhausted, in pain or on medication that makes you drowsy or impairs your senses.
- Fall the right way to reduce injury. If you find yourself losing control, keep your hands in a fist to prevent broken fingers. Also, fall forward on the knees or forearms or backward on your backside to better absorb the impact.
When Injury Happens
“RICE” is every expert’s advice for immediate treatment of injured joints. The acronym stands for “rest, ice, compression and elevation”.
First, take weight off the injured area, and apply an ice pack for 10 minutes at a time to minimize bruising and swelling. Next, wrap support bandages around the injured area for stability and immobilization, and elevate it to a comfortable position above the heart. Repeat “RICE” until the injured area has improved and you can seek medical attention.
SIDEBAR: Safety on the Slopes: A Few Extra Tips
Warm up with a couple of slow runs. Do not stop where you obstruct a trail, and yield to those in front of you, particularly when merging. If you must leave a slope, side step down with your skis on.
Sit face forward, and steer either with your feet or a rein that is tied to the sled’s steering handles. Never sled head first or on slopes that end on streets or parking lots or in water bodies like rivers or ponds.
When taking tight turns, work the snowboard with the lower body, swinging like a pendulum. Keep the knees bent and move the legs into each turn. When jumping, take off and land flat and have someone act as a spotter for the first few jumps.
For more info: AAOS.org, kidsource.com, ehow.com.