The first snowfall can only mean a few things: skiing, snowboarding and sledding. But some of the best things about the falling temperatures can also be the most dangerous. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the most common winter sports injuries include sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures.
"No matter your skill level, everyone is susceptible to injury on the slopes," said Allston J. Stubbs, M.D., associate professor of orthopaedics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Most of these injuries happen at the end of the day, so you may want to think twice before going for 'one last run,' especially when you're tired."
To keep you injury-free before, during and after you participate in your favorite winter sport, Stubbs offers the following tips:
•Physical preparedness. Keep in shape and condition muscles.
•Warm up thoroughly. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are vulnerable to injury.
•Be a good student. Take a lesson (or several) from a qualified instructor.
•Avoid participating when in pain or exhausted.
•Safety in numbers. Never hit the slopes alone.
•Wear appropriate apparel.
oProtective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding
oSeveral layers of light, loose and water- and wind-resistant clothing
oFootwear that provides warmth, dryness and ample ankle support.
•Sore spots? Apply ice bag to tender areas for 20 minutes. Then take it off for a couple of hours and repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or two.
•Hydrate. Drink plenty of water before, during and after activities.
"My advice isn't meant to take the fun out of winter sports," said Stubbs. "It's meant to help keep you on the slopes as much as possible."
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center