- Published: 23 February 2017
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Did you know that last year almost a quarter of a million people were treated for injuries related to winter sports? According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, that’s the number of individuals that were seen at either an emergency department, an urgent care facility, an orthopaedic surgeon’s office, or a primary care provider’s office in 2016. And those are just the injuries that were reported– we’re sure that number would be higher if we were able to include all the other winter sports injuries that occurred where no treatment was sought. Some of the most common winter sports injuries include sprains and strains, broken bones (fractures), and dislocations.
Here’s how the injuries break down by numbers:
Snow skiing – 88,000 injuries
Snowboarding – 61,000 injuries
Ice Skating – 50,000 injuries
Sledding/Snow Tubing/Tobogganing – 47,000 injuries
One interesting aspect of all of this is that even though injuries can obviously occur at any point of participation, most injuries tend to happen at the very end of the day. Exhaustion and overexertion play a big part in these types of injuries and can sometimes be prevented simply by staying alert, being aware of both yourself and your surroundings, and making sure to stop when you’re worn out or in pain.
Some other tips on ways that you can help prevent injury while participating in winter activities, courtesy of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, include:
- Always have a buddy with you– never participate alone in a winter sport.
- Do your best to stay in shape and condition muscles before participating in winter activities.
- Warm up thoroughly beforehand. Cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are extra vulnerable to injury.
- Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding.
- Check to ensure that all of your equipment is working properly prior to use.
- Wear several layers of light, loose and water/wind-resistant clothing for warmth and protection. Layering allows you to accommodate your body's constantly changing temperature.
- Wear proper footwear that provides warmth and dryness as well as ample ankle support.
- Know and abide by all rules of the sport in which you are participating.
- Take a lesson from a qualified instructor, especially in sports like skiing and snowboarding. Learning how to fall correctly and safely can reduce the risk of injury.
- Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature.
- Seek shelter and medical attention immediately if you or anyone with you is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite. Make sure everyone is aware of proper procedures for getting help should injury or illness occur.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after activities. Do not drink alcohol before or during your participation in any of these activities.
- Avoid participating in sports when you are in pain or exhausted.