For some people, the winter weather means cozying up indoors and waiting for spring to arrive. For others, it’s the best time of the year to enjoy the great outdoors. Winter sports are a wonderful way to stay active throughout the year, but as with any kind of physical activity, they do come with their share of risks.
Performing any type of exercise in cold weather puts more strain on the body. Of all the winter sports you can try, skiing or snowboarding may provide the best recipe for injury. You’re speeding down a hill, surrounded by people, and obstacles. Knees, arms, and your head are most susceptible to injury when skiing. To decrease your risk, take on board the following pointers;
- Test your bindings to make sure they fit properly
- Take frequent water breaks to stay hydrated
- Know your limits and stick to the trails that are suited for you
You can decrease your risk even more by not doing things like:
– Forgetting to wear goggles and a helmet. Goggles help you see on the mountain and the helmet can prevent skull fractures.
– Skipping a warm up or stretching your cold muscles before you hit the slopes.
– Never stand up during a fall. Skiers should “go” with the momentum of a fall to avoid knee injuries.
– Don’t use your arms to break a fall. It could result in a rotator cuff tear or shoulder dislocation.
Countless numbers of winter sports injuries happen at the end of the day, when people overexert themselves to finish that one last run before quitting. A majority of these injuries can easily be prevented if participants prepare for their sport by keeping in good physical condition, staying alert and stopping when they are tired or in pain.
Another factor to keep in mind is that your body needs time to adjust to the winter sports. It’s critical to listen to your body. If that means taking a slower first day than the rest of your friends, or arriving a day early, just do it. Don’t override that little cautioning voice or push yourself too hard.
Water consumption is vital for all sports, but can be forgotten during the colder winter months. A quick rule for staying hydrated is that you should drink enough liquid to produce urine that is clear yellow.
Be strategic about planning your outdoor workouts in the winter. Wear layers, so you can cool off a bit as you start to sweat. And be extra diligent about warming up. Start with dynamic movements that get your heart rate moving at the same time that they use big muscle groups, like jumping jacks, jump squats, or lunges with a twist.
During your cool down, stretch a bit more than usual, and it’s always a good idea to walk for a few minutes to get your heart rate to slow down.
Dreary days and cold weather may make you want to just sit at home and just watch TV. Resist!
Even if outdoor activity isn’t an option, there are hundreds of indoor exercises you can attempt, including yoga, pilates and gym work. When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing. Winter is a great time to be active, and keep in shape in time for summer.
Winter sports may be cold, fun, and exhilarating, but before you race outdoors into frosty bliss, you should take the proper precautions to indulge in your sport, because no one wants to be stuck inside with an injury all season long.