Winter can be a beautiful time of year. If you are the type of person that enjoys a colder climate and winter activities then you might be tempted to visit the ski slopes or skating rinks to enjoy a few hours of fun. If you do, it’s always important to take the right safety precautions. In many instances, some of the most common winter sporting injuries can be prevented. 

If you are looking to have some fun, brush up on your winter sporting skills or just get ready for a winter holiday, there are some overall general tips that you can follow to help you stay safe when taking part in any winter activity. 

Preparation is Key

Most of us in the UK, only take part in skiing and other winter sports sporadically, without easy access to suitable settings unless traveling abroad. Due to this, our bodies aren’t used to a change in activity, which we push through intensely for a long weekend or a week at a time for most. Make sure you prepare for this by starting to carry out “sports specific” exercises, which for skiing and snowboarding can be simple exercises such as squats to strengthen the thighs and balance exercises to help improve proprioception of the ankle and knee. A wobble board can be a cheap tool to work on these areas at home, but if you are unsure it is always wise to seek out the advice of a professional to ensure you get the most out of your activity, injury free.

When actually out participating in winter sports there are tips and information to take note of on a daily basis such as warming up cold muscles with some light stretching or exercise and wearing multiple, breathable layers to insulate your body, which can be removed as needed. You should also remember to stay hydrated and not push yourself too hard when you’re already tired as this is when accidents can easily happen.

Dislocated/Fractured Shoulder/Elbow/Wrist

When you fall over on a hard icy surface, you run the risk of dislocating your shoulder or elbow. You could also end up with a serious injury if you stretch out your hands to break your fall or to keep yourself from crashing into something. If the impact when you fall is hard enough, you might end up with a fractured arm or a dislocated elbow as the joint gets pushed out of its normal position.

Although falls can’t really be avoided when skiing, there are ways you can reduce the likelihood of injury. There are techniques that you can learn that show you the proper way to fall on your side, back, and front. Learning how to fall correctly gives you some control over the direction and making a conscious effort to land as properly as you can, will likely save you from injury. It is also important not to wear the pole straps around your wrists or hands whilst skiing, as if caught, it can cause fractures of the thumb or wrist.

Snowboarders Ankle & Knee Injuries

Snowboarding has increased in popularity dramatically as a winter sport, but with this increase in popularity comes an increase in ankle injuries. Sprained and fractured ankles are one of the most common winter sporting injuries because people trip, fall, twist or roll their ankles trying to walk or run on an uneven surface. Plus the soft boots that snowboarders wear give them a higher risk of an ankle injury.

These kinds of ankle injuries are so common while snowboarding that a fracture of the lateral process of the Talus bone (LPTF) has also come to be known as “snowboarder’s ankle”.

Tips to help avoid ankle injuries when snowboarding include wearing properly fitting boots with secure bindings to keep them in place.

When skiing, try to keep your legs as tight as possible. If your legs spread, the unnatural angle can create a huge strain on your knees. The most common knee injury that we see arising from skiing, is an injury to the inside of the knee as your knee buckles inwards.

Concussion

A concussion is a common injury while playing any sport during any season. That being said, at the last Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, concussions affected a number of athletes, particularly those in skiing and snowboarding events.

A direct impact on the head is not necessarily a cause of a concussion. A concussion occurs as a result of an acceleration/​deceleration injury, similar to whiplash, which leads to a shaking of the brain inside the skull.

The NHS website states that you should go to A&E if you have suffered a head injury and have:

  • been knocked out but have now woken up
  • vomited (been sick) since the injury
  • a headache that does not go away with painkillers
  • a change in behaviour
  • problems with memory
  • been drinking alcohol or taking drugs just before the injury
  • a blood clotting disorder (like haemophilia) or you take medicine to thin your blood
  • had brain surgery in the past

Tips to help avoid concussion include always wearing a helmet that properly fits your head, being fully aware of your surroundings, and avoiding listening to music or wearing headphones.

Lumbar Injury

Skiers are particularly prone to spinal injuries because of the high slopes, but snowboarding and other winter sports also put you at risk of hurting your back. 

You can’t always prevent back injuries that occur during winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding, but strengthening your core muscles can help reduce your risk of these kinds of injuries. Strengthening exercises such as “The Superman” can help strengthen the muscles in your back, helping to prevent lumbar injuries.

Many people often see a chiropractor on a regular basis to prevent injury to the spine and optimise performance in their chosen sport. At Backworks we look not only at diagnosing and treating your complaint but at getting to the root cause of the problem, what caused it in the first place and how to stop it from reoccurring. 

For more help recovering from and preventing a winter sports injury, contact us to speak to one of our sports massage therapists in Southend-on-Sea at Backworks, call us now on 01702 342329.