Outdoor cold-weather activities such as snowboarding, ice skating, snow skiing and sledding are a great way to stay active during the winter. But they also increase your risk of injury if you overexert yourself or ignore fatigue and pain.
Winter sports injuries send thousands of people to emergency rooms, physician’s offices and urgent care centers every year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AOS).
How to Prevent Injuries
Use these tips from the AOS to prevent injuries and keep yourself in the game all winter long:
- Choose footwear that provides needed support to your feet and ankles.
- Cold muscles, ligaments and tendons are more prone to injury. Warm up completely before beginning any physical activity to reduce the likelihood of injury.
- Dress appropriately for the activity and the weather. Wear multiple layers of clothing that allow you to accommodate any changes in your body's temperature. Opt for water and wind-resistant clothing for added protection and warmth during inclement weather.
- If you're new to a winter sport, getting instructions and feedback from a qualified teacher is a good idea. Knowing how to fall correctly and safely can help you keep your efforts to learn a new activity injury-free.
- Pay attention to the weather forecast and stay inside if your area is experiencing severe temperature changes or storms. Take shelter immediately if inclement weather makes a surprise appearance.
- Wear protective gear such as gloves, a helmet, padding or goggles when appropriate and needed for additional safety.
Keeping Children Safe While Staying Active
It's vital for children to keep some physical activity in their daily routines. It's even better if they can get some sunshine and fresh air at the same time—even during winter. Keep an eye on the weather, dress appropriately and set reasonable time limits to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.
These tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics will help prevent winter injuries from keeping your child on the sidelines all season.
- Always skate in the same direction as others on the ice.
- Avoid sledding in crowded areas. Use a steerable sled instead of an inner tube or snow disk.
- Children under the age of 16 should not operate snowmobiles. Children younger than six years old should not ride on snowmobiles.
- Don’t sled head-first on the sled. Sledding feet-first may help prevent head injuries if you hit an unexpected bump or obstacle.
- Don’t use a snowmobile to pull skiers or a sled.
- Ice skate only on approved surfaces. Check with your local parks and recreation or police departments to determine the safest areas before lacing up.
- Never participate in winter activities such as sledding, skiing, snowboarding or ice skating alone. Children should be supervised at all times.
- Ski on slopes that match your experience and ability. Steer clear of crowded areas.
Contact your primary care physician before starting any new exercise program or sport. Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.