Whether you are a figure skater attempting a triple axel-triple toe combination in the Winter Olympics, or a novice skier on the bunny slope, one thing is for sure: winter sports can be dangerous.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 246,000 injuries related to winter sports were treated in 2015.
That is why with any winter sport, the proper safety precautions must be taken.
Winter sports demand a great deal of skill, balance, agility, core strength, and stamina. Also, the surfaces for most winter sports – snow or ice – are not natural to us. For many, these sports require a great deal of experience and practice to begin feeling comfortable.
Downhill skiing, snowboarding, and ice hockey are the sports that are known to have the highest incidence of injuries. These can consist of sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, and concussions.
Winter sports often involve specialized gear and equipment, and injuries can sometimes be quite serious. Injuries like a bone fracture or ligament damage that require surgery not only cost time away from your favorite sport, but also from work as well.
While you might not be competing in the luge in PyeongChang at 80 miles an hour, sledding and snow tubing in your neighborhood present their own dangers. Be sure to follow safety precautions for these winter activities as well.
Tips to avoid injuries
Although most injuries that occur cannot be avoided (that is why we call them accidents), many injuries occur from carelessness, improper technique, ignoring rules, fatigue, and not recognizing one’s own limitations.
- Before engaging in any winter sport, it is critical to have the appropriate gear and safety equipment such as helmets, pads, goggles/eye protection, and wrist guards. Make sure your gear fits appropriately and that you are wearing them correctly.
- Take the time to understand the nature, rules, etiquette, and risks of the sport you are participating in. For some sports like skiing, formal instruction is highly recommended, and lessons are a worthwhile investment. Here are more tips on skiing safety.
- Recognize your skill level and limitations. Do not try the double black diamond course on your first day on skis or attempt to land a quadruple jump on your skates.
When to seek treatment
Remember, you do not need to be an Olympic athlete to get injured this winter! While some injuries can be cared for at home, others need medical attention.
Seek medical care if an injury results in:
- a deformity
- an inability to walk or use an extremity due to pain
- pain and swelling that is manageable but does not resolve within two weeks
Visit our website for more information on our sports medicine program.