Practice winter sports safety

Winter sports enthusiasts love the turn of season when temperatures drop and snow begins to fall. Skiing and snowboarding are exciting and exhilarating sports, but that doesn't mean they have to be dangerous.

Preventing Injury

Andrew Ralph, P.T., physical therapist with Providence Rehabilitative Services-Sports Medicine, advises that you can prevent common injuries and avoid a visit to the emergency room by following a few precautions. If you haven't exercised regularly in a few months, says Ralph, don't expect your body to perform sporting miracles. “Most importantly, you should condition before you participate in winter activities, and do it regularly,” says Ralph. “That means staying in shape with flexibility, strength and cardiovascular fitness.”

Good education is also essential to preventing injury. Beginners should get proper instruction for sports like skiing and snowboarding. Learning how to maneuver quickly and fall safely can help reduce injury. Ralph also advises people to be careful with their activity selection. Choosing a sport within your abilities and skill level is key to staying injury-free, he says.

Safety Tips

  • Never participate alone in a winter sport.
  • Condition muscles through aerobic, cardiovascular and weight-training exercises.
  • Warm up and stretch thoroughly. Cold muscles are vulnerable to injury.
  • For warmth and protection, wear layers of light, loose and water- and wind-resistant clothing.
  • Wear footwear that provides warmth, dryness and ankle support.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, wrist guards, and gloves.
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after your activity.