Are you a snowboarding enthusiast? Skiing? Sledding? Or, just an overall winter fanatic? If so, you must love when the season begins to turn, temperatures start dropping to 30 degrees and snow begins to flurry. Winter activities are exciting and thrilling, but that doesn’t mean they aren't dangerous too. Don't let a mishap from playing too hard in the snow spoil your fun this year. Instead, take precautions that will ensure your safety all season long. Follow our tips for an active, healthy, and safe winter sport season:
Stay in Shape
Staying in shape and conditioning your muscles throughout the winter will help minimize your risk of injury. Before heading out, always warm up with light exercises and stretches. Do not go full speed ahead, especially at the beginning of the season. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are prone to injury so take it slow!
Wear several layers of light and loose, water and wind resistant clothing for extra warmth and protection. Layering up your clothing allows you to accommodate your body's constantly changing temperature to ensure you stay warm and dry throughout the day. Also, wear proper footwear that provides your feet with warmth and dryness, as well as ample ankle support.
Protection is a must! Always wear the appropriate protective gear for the activity, like helmets, goggles, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads.
Test your Equipment
Before heading out on the slopes, make sure all of your winter equipment is in good working order. If not, use rental equipment in the meantime while yours is getting fixed up.
Learn How to Fall
Surprisingly, it’s not avoiding falls that will help prevent injury. It's learning how to fall correctly that will help reduce your risk. Shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries are the most common this time of year with people trying to brace the fall and hurting themselves in the process. If necessary, get help from a ski instructor on learning how to fall.
Know your Limits
If you're beginner, don't try going down the biggest and longest trail. Choose sloops and maneuvers that match your skill level. You know the saying… “practice makes perfect” and it's true! Work at it, and eventually you'll be on the big mountain in no time.
Drink water before, during and after the activity, especially children. Compared to adults, children are at increased risk of dehydration—and yes, it can happen even in cold temperatures.
Follow the Rules
Whether you’re hitting the slopes, going sledding, or just having some fun in the snow, be aware of the safety risks and rules. No matter what mountain or hill you choose to visit, stay within the marked trails, and for skiing and snowboarding, learn how to get properly get on and off the ski lift. On the other hand, sledding injuries often result from collisions. Before you say "1, 2, 3, GO!", make sure the path is clear of obstacles and isn't near a road, parking lot, pond or street poles. Besides collisions, trying funky ways to go down the hill, such as a belly-flop position, will most likely lead to an injury. Always go down feet-first in a seated position when sledding.
Winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and sledding are great ways to get outside during the cold winter months, but they can also be dangerous, leading to sprains, fractures, strains, concussions and dislocations. Many of these injuries happen at the end of the day, when people overexert themselves to finish that one last run. On the plus side, these injuries are preventable.
In case an injury does occur, see a doctor as soon as possible to ensure proper treatment and healing. Don’t have a health care provider? We can help with that! Community Care has primary care offices located throughout the Capital Region. For assistance with finding a doctor, please visit our website or call our Concierge Care Coordinator at (518) 782-3800.