Winter has well and set in across the US, and many parts of the country have already experienced major winter storms. The snow and ice bring a whole slew of thrilling outdoor pastimes that can only be enjoyed this time of year. Skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, snowshoeing, ice skating all provide opportunities for thrills, but winter sports can also be the cause of all sorts of fiascos.
In 2017, 220,000 individuals were brought to the hospital for treatment due to injuries related to winter sports. According to reports gathered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 69,000 individuals were injured from snow skiing, the most of any winter sport, followed by 54,000 people who were brought to the ER due to snowboarding. With such accidents threatening to put a damper on your winter fun, it is essential to take certain precautions before strapping on your skis and snowboard.
So, now that we’ve shared a slightly alarming number with you, what are some situations you need to be aware of? Here are some common winter injuries and how you can prevent them from ruining your excursion.
1. Spine and Back Injuries
Winter brings the possibility of slipping on icy driveways and sidewalks. Such injuries are even higher when one is engaged in winter sports. Extreme sporting enthusiasts who are into snowboarding and skiing are 50% more likely to endure spine and back injuries than those who don’t enjoy flying down mountainsides. Though less extreme, sledding also exposes individuals to spine and back injuries, which can be accompanied by vertebral contusions, fractures, and spinal lesions.
These injuries can be prevented by knowing and accepting your pace and limit, familiarizing yourself with the trail, knowing the terrain, using proper gear which is in good condition. Also, check the weather. Heading down the double black diamond in a snowstorm highly increases your chances of slipping and injuring your back.
2. Hand and Wrist Injuries
One of the most common injuries sustained by skiers is hand or wrist injuries.
You use your hands to hold the ski poles which aid in gliding down mountain slopes. While mainly used for controlling your path and steering, your hands and wrists are also used to hold off impact and protect your body from hitting the ground. As such, fractured wrists, phalangeal fractures, metacarpal fractures, and skier’s thumb are quite common injuries during winter.
To prevent these types of injuries, it is necessary that one knows how to fall correctly. Doing so helps lessen the impact and prevents you from sustaining fractures. Also, make it a habit to stop and rest if you sense any discomfort in your hands or wrists due to prolonged skiing. Be sure to stretch and keep limber your wrists and hands; it’s too easy to let them stiffen up in the cold, which only increases the chance of injury.
People who play winter sports can suffer from concussions. According to studies, snowboarders have a 50% more chance of sustaining head injuries compared to skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts.
To protect one’s head from hitting hard snow and ice, it is important to wear headgear that fits the activity and environment. Again, it is advised that winter athletes should learn to fall “correctly.” For instance, when falling in a skating rink or on a mountain slope, it is advised to use one’s arms to protect the head from hitting the ground. This way, skull fractures, and brain hemorrhages are avoided. Seek medical care from a physiotherapist with experience in working with post-concussion symptoms and vestibular conditions if you have sustained a concussion.
4. Ankle Injuries
Winter athletes are also exposed to “snowboarder’s ankle” or the fracture of the lateral process of the talus. This injury is characterized by discomfort, bruising, or pain of the ankle area. If not treated correctly, it can lead to recurrent ankle sprains, arthritis, chronic pain, tendinitis, and even disability.
Winter boots are much heavier than typical shoes, so it is important to wear ones which fit your feet and legs, and are comfortable to wear for long periods - this differs for everyone, so don’t be afraid to try on many pairs until you find the ones which suit you best. This goes double for shoes or boots you wear during sports, such as a ski or snowboarding boots, nice shoes, or ice skates Like other injuries, you need to know how to fall correctly to avoid sustaining such injuries. Also, make sure to seek medical care once you experience any sign of pain or discomfort in your ankles so you can treat it before the condition worsens.
With proper safety gear and precautionary measures, winter accidents can be prevented or, at least, more manageable. If all else fails, it is good to have an expanded first aid kit that can help stabilize and minimize discomfort caused by such injuries. Grab one of Surviveware’s Large First Aid Kits now and enjoy a worry-free winter sporting experience.