Preventing Winter Sports Injuries
Many people prefer to exercise outdoors particularly in the warmer months, but in the winter many people retreat to an ‘indoor only’ exercise program. Winter is a great time to get outside and participate in a variety of sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and sledding; however, there are a few things to remember when venturing outside to prevent injuries.
First and foremost, the proper winter gear is essential. Plan on wearing layers, which will help regulate your body temperature when the mercury drops. The layer closest to your skin should have moisture wicking capabilities in order to prevent the moisture on your skin from building up, which would in turn increase the likelihood of hypothermia from exposure to cold air. The next layer should be an insulating layer of clothing such as wool or fleece that will keep you warm and the final layer (the top layer) should have waterproof and windproof qualities. These rules also apply to footwear!
After you have all your gear, you need to remember that your body still needs a warm up and cool down period. During any winter sport, you should allow your body about 10 minutes to warm up with some light activity (such as walking) and a cool down period of about 10 minutes, which should include stretching of the appropriate muscles in the legs, trunk, and arms. And remember to drink plenty of water! You may not feel thirsty because of the cooler weather, but dehydration happens quickly!
Lastly, please remember safety while participating in winter sports! You should be wearing appropriate safety gear such as helmets, goggles, and padding. These items will help to prevent an injury should a fall occur. Also, if you are unfamiliar with a particular sport, take a lesson (or two!) by a qualified instructor. Now you are ready to take advantage of all the great cold weather sports that we have available to us in Upstate New York!
Information gathered from:
Heather Chatt, PT, DPT, OCS, Cert. MDT