How to avoid winter sports injuries

Many individuals eagerly await the opportunity to visit the slopes or ice rink when the temperature decreases and snow starts to fall. Not injury is on their thoughts; it’s wintertime pleasure. However, it’s simple to get into trouble if you don’t carefully plan for your favorite pastime.

Winter sports-related injuries cost nearly 200,000 individuals their lives in 2018, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, and tobogganing all contributed significantly to these accidents. Concussions and other brain injuries were frequent, as were sprains, strains, dislocations, and fractures.

In fact, a study in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that brain injuries account for 20% of the roughly 600,000 ski and snowboarding-related accidents that happen each year in North America.

How to avoid winter sports injuries
How to avoid winter sports injuries

Certainly, head injuries are the most concerning, according to Dr. Brian Cole, an orthopedic physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush in Chicago. In situations when there is uncontrolled speed and you hit a tree or light post, those can be fairly severe.

Dr. Scott Smith, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates in Austin, stated that many head injuries could be avoided by simply wearing a helmet, something that young people in particular may be reluctant to do. But because you’re going to fall, it’s worthwhile.

Dr. Scott Smith, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates in Austin, stated that many head injuries could be avoided by simply wearing a helmet, something that young people, in particular, may be reluctant to do. But because you’re going to fall, it’s worthwhile.

According to Dr. Erin Nance, an orthopedic surgeon with Nance MD in New York, “the time you’re most likely to get hurt skiing is on your last run.” It’s always like that because you’re worn out. Additionally, when you are tired, you pay less attention to your technique.

You should master good falling techniques because so many winter sports can end in spills. Generally speaking, avoid sticking out your hands to attempt and break your fall, advised hand surgeon Nance. To ensure that your upper body absorbs the majority of the fall, she said, “tuck and roll.” This reduces the risk of a catastrophic ligament tear or fracture.

Age and gender differences in injuries

A given gender or age group is more likely to sustain certain winter sports injuries than others. Injuries from sledding, snowmobiling, and downhill skiing, particularly ruptured ACLs in the knee, are common among Cole’s younger patients. Middle-aged males tend to sustain injuries from snowmobiling.

Age and gender differences in injuries
Age and gender differences in injuries

 According to Nance, spiral tibia fractures commonly occur at the top of ski boots in children who participate in downhill skiing. Their ankles and feet are supported by ski boots, but the area above is unprotected.

A growth-plate fracture in the hand is a typical occurrence among kids who snowboard, especially if they are not using wrist protectors, which she advises. According to research published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, novice snowboarders without wrist protectors are four times as likely to suffer a wrist injury as those who do.

The physicians noted that younger persons experience more strains and sprains from winter sports falls, whereas older adults are more likely to break bones. One of the most frequent injuries sustained by adults when downhill skiing is a skier’s thumb or a torn ligament. Although a skier’s thumb isn’t a significant ailment in and of itself, if neglected, it can develop into one.

Extra safety advice for each sport.

Skiing and snowboarding

  • If you are new to the sport, you should consider taking some lessons.
  • Put on some protective eyewear in addition to a helmet that fits you properly and is in good condition.
  • Always keep other skiers and the ever-changing weather and snow conditions in your peripheral vision.
  • Smith emphasized the importance of staying on the marked pathways. He said that if you ski outside of the boundaries and are harmed, no one will know that you are there.

Ice skating

  • To avoid causing a collision or other dangerous situations, you should skate in the same direction as the other skaters.
  • Keep an eye out for trash, fractures, and holes in the ice.
  • When you’re on the ice, you shouldn’t eat gum or candy.
  • Nance advised making certain that the rented skates were of the appropriate size. Because stability is the foundation for everything, she advised that you find skates that are the right size for you and lace them up as tightly as possible. It is the responsibility of adults to tie the skates of children.

Sledding

  • Sled with your feet first, not your head. Additionally, sitting upright is preferable.
  • Sled in an open space devoid of obstructions like trees and fences.
  • Keep an eye out for any potential dangers that might be buried in the snow.
  • If you feel that a collision is about to occur, roll off the sled.
  • Always use caution, even when you’re not on the slopes. Nance commented, “I frequently see onlookers not paying attention, and a sledder comes down and takes their knees out from under them.” “It occurs several times a day, on average.”
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