How to Prevent Ski Injuries

Many winter sports enthusiasts love skiing, but this daring pastime isn’t without its dangers. Proper safety on the slopes can mean the difference between enjoying the beautiful après-ski nightlife – and being stuck in a sling or a cast. Every year in the United States alone, 40 people will lose their lives from skiing and snowboarding accidents, and according to Johns Hopkins researchers, around 600,000 people suffer injuries due to these two winter sports.

When you fall, what’s your first instinct? Chances are it’s to put out your arms; this classic response comes from a fear of falling on our faces. However, putting out one’s arms to break a fall when skiing can result in severe injuries such as shoulder dislocations and sprains, or “skiers thumb” – which derives its name from the way an athlete holds his poles. The Anterior Cruciate Ligament – better known as the ACL, is the main ligament of the knee and another frequent target for pain when out on the powder. According to skiing enthusiast publication Liftopia, more than 20,000 skiers incur an ACL injury every year.

The experts who treat orthopaedic injuries are often the best sources of advice for avoiding these types of blunders. There are a few simple precautions you can take to ensure that you don’t wind up in a terrible ski scenario.

Lindsey Vonn wouldn’t get out on the slopes without sticking to a strict health regimen all year. In order to participate in a challenging sport such as skiing, it’s vital to maintain optimal health during warmer months, too. If you’re feeling rusty when winter rolls around, stick to bunny (beginner) trails before working your way up so you don’t overexert yourself.

As with any sport, warming up is absolutely essential; the need increases when sports and cold temperatures are combined. Because a simple warm up like jogging or jumping jacks increases the blood flow to muscles, it can prevent injuries. A “cold” muscle, on the other hand, is much more prone to tears. According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health, when muscle temperature drops below 32°C, less energy is required to cause muscle tears.

When athletes are on the tennis court or golf course, hydration is second nature. When the temperatures drop, people tend to assume that they’re not sweating – so, there’s no need to replenish fluids. This simply isn’t the case. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons debunks this myth – stating that “even moderate levels of dehydration can affect physical ability and endurance.” If you’re trying to reduce the number of bathroom breaks you take; think very carefully. You may want to consider packing a Camelback or other portable hydration system, and starting your day with a hydrating beverage (rather than your cup of Joe).

Always dress the part. The use of proper protective gear has been associated with a 43% reduction in the number of neck, face, and head injuries, but still less than half of all skiers don a helmet before hitting the slopes. Does your ski shop meet the bar when it comes to safety standards? Rather than selecting ski equipment based on looks, see what’s beneath the surface. It’s always best to rent or buy your accessories from a shop that meets the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for protection.

You’re hot, then you’re cold. Because of the body’s fluctuating temperature when skiing, it’s best to layer up. Choose pieces that are spun from loose and water-resistant fabric that will offer sufficient protection and warmth for those blustery excursions.

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete who is trying to overcome an injury, or a newbie who’s looking to prevent future ailments, the experts at Tarpon Orthopedics can be a wonderful resource for you. They’ve successfully helped many athletes recuperate & return to their favorite sports. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 972-596-1059.

Yenny Rojas

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