Skiing is one of the most beloved forms of winter fun. However, it can also be dangerous. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 144,000 downhill skiing-related injuries were treated in 2010 between hospitals, emergency rooms and doctors’ offices across the country.
At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, we want athletes and hobbyists of all types to know how important it is to stay safe while doing the activities they love. Here are four ways you can stay safe when you take to the slopes this year:
Know Your Risks of Injury
Because falls and collisions cause impact to different body parts depending on where they happen. Injuries as a result of downhill skiing can affect a wide variety of areas. The most common orthopedic injuries that happen as a result of skiing include:
- Knee injuries, particularly injuries of the anterior cruciate ligament.
- Shoulder injuries, such as dislocations and sprains, which happen when you put your arm out to catch yourself as you fall.
- Fractures to the shoulder and lower leg.
- Head injuries, which are very serious and require immediate attention.
Choose the Appropriate Equipment
The gear you take out on the slopes can make or break your performance. It can also be the difference between a fun day in the snow and a serious injury. Be sure to choose appropriate clothing for skiing: that’s several layers of clothing which should be light, loose-fitting, and resistant to wind and water (not to mention warm). Footwear is equally important, and skiing can’t be done in just any boots. The ones you buy or rent should be approved by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) for safety and appropriateness. This goes for the bindings as well, which should be adjusted appropriately for your personal height and weight. Finally, ski goggles and a ski helmet are important items to have when you ski. It’s especially important to have the right ski helmet -- don’t bring your bike or skateboarding helmet as a substitute!
Go to the Slopes Prepared
If you’re planning a ski trip, a little preparation beforehand can help prevent an injury, saving you a great deal of pain and hassle in the long run. Here are some of the best ways you can prepare to ski:
- Don’t push yourself, take frequent breaks, and stop as soon as you feel yourself getting tired or overexerted.
- Maintain fitness, ensuring that your body is in shape before you get to the slopes. If it’s been a while or you’re new to skiing, don’t start with the hardest runs. Gradually build up to more challenging runs.
- Stay hydrated, taking frequent water breaks throughout your day and continue to do so after you’re done skiing.
- Perform warmups, which can get your muscles ready for activity and increase blood flow to help prevent injuries.
- Don’t overdo it, and only ski on slopes that match your current skill level.
If you’ve never skied before, it’s advisable to take a lesson or two before doing so. Learning a few of the basic techniques can help you stay safe when it’s time to take to the slopes!
Practice Safe Skiing
At any ski resort or park, a strict set of rules have been put in place to keep you safe and protect you from common injuries. Additionally, skiing as a sport has some general safety etiquette you should learn and follow, such as safely stopping, merging, and yielding to other skiers while sharing a trail. It’s also important to remember that you’re outdoors. Respecting your environment is a strong element of safety -- check the weather before you go out, and be sure to stay on the trail while steering clear of marked-off areas.
Skiing should never be done without a partner, and partners should stick together and wait for one another if someone falls behind.
If you’ve sustained an orthopedic injury while skiing, the sports medicine experts at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists are here to help you get the treatment you need, To be scheduled with a physician at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, contact our office at (847) 285-4200 or schedule online here.
For urgent needs when our physician’s offices are closed, visit our Immediate Orthopedic Care (IOC) in Schaumburg, Illinois.