Falling temperatures and falling snow mean it is once again the start of ‘slope season.’ Swishing down the slopes on skis or snowboards, twirling on the ice or rocketing downhill on snowmobiles or sleds 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.
No matter your skill level, everyone is susceptible to injury on the slopes and many injuries are preventable. One key to staying out the Emergency Department this season is to warm up for winter activities. Condition before participation. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more susceptible to injury and a significant number of injuries happen at the end of the day. Start slow and be aware of muscle fatigue and slower responsiveness at day’s end.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons urges 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 correctly can reduce the risk of injury.
- Avoid participating in sports when you are in pain or exhausted.
Finally, we advise people to start slowly and be thoughtful when selecting an activity. It is very important to choose a sport consistent with your ability and skill level. Weekend after weekend we see people who went sledding and missed the trail, skiers with twisted knees and ankle sprains, and snowboarders with wrists fractures and shoulder damage. The truth is, during the winter months, sports injuries and accidents are common.
In the unfortunate case of an injury, it is wise to have an orthopaedic evaluation. If you are in need of an orthopedic consult, please call my office at 208-233-8344.
All of us at Ford Orthopeadic Surgery and Sports Medicine wish you a long, safe and injury free slope and winter sports season.