Portneuf Health Partners

December 15th, 2017

Prepare for Winter Sport Season

Falling temperatures and falling snow are a clear indication that the winter sports season is upon us. During the holidays, many families look forward to swishing down slopes on skis, tackling the bumpy terrain on a snowboard, sliding down the hill on a sleigh or perhaps twirling on an ice rink. However, when you put your coat and gloves on this season, bear in mind that outdoor activities cause thousands of injuries each year. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the most common winter sports injuries include sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures.

While we are all susceptible to injury, there are ways to help prevent spending your holiday season watching people enjoy the snow from a seat in the lodge. To help you stay on the slopes and out of the emergency rooms this season, we encourage everyone to warm up for winter activities. Some people like to say – condition before participation. Injuries are far more likely to happen when muscles, tendons and ligaments are cold or when they are fatigued; a number of significant injuries occur at the end of a long day. Start slow and pay careful attention to muscle fatigue and slower responsiveness at day’s end.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons urge children and adults to follow these tips for preventing winter sports injuries:
• Keep in shape and condition muscles prior to participating in winter activities.
• Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, wrist guards, gloves and padding.
• Check that your equipment is in good working condition and properly fitted.
• Take a lesson (or several) from a qualified instructor. Learning how to fall properly can reduce the risk of injury.
• Avoid participating in sports when you are in pain or overly tired.

Be thoughtful when selecting an activity; choose a sport that is consistent with your abilities and skill level. Weekend after weekend, our emergency department sees skiers with twisted knees and sprained ankles, snowboarders with wrist fractures and shoulder damage, and sledders with bruises and fractures. The truth is, during the winter season, injury and accident are common. Additionally, winter weather in general with the ice and snow cause a number of unforeseen accidents each year. Please remember to watch where you step and pay attention when you walk because you never know when there might be ice or water that could cause you to slip and fall.

While we would rather see you on the slopes making memories with friends and family, in the unfortunate case of an injury, it is wise to be seen by a physician. From all of us at Portneuf, we wish you an injury free slope season.

Medically reviewed by Gregory Ford, MD, MS, Orthopedic Surgeon