With the Vancouver Winter Olympics inspiring many to take up snow sports, participants need to be aware of injury risks when participating in winter sports such as Cross-Country Skiing, Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding.
Many people take to the snow without giving a second thought to the risks involved and without adequate preparation. Hospital data in Australia shows 273 people visited emergency departments in 2007 for skiing and snowboarding related injuries.
Sports Medicine Australia spokesperson, Dr Peter Nathan says good preparation is essential to avoiding injury.
“Snow sports are a great way to stay active and fit. However a lack of preparation can result in injury,” said Dr Nathan.
“Good preparation is one of the keys to injury prevention. Skiing and snowboarding are physically demanding sports that require flexibility, strength, endurance, speed and quick reflexes. Preparation and conditioning are essential to help prevent the injuries of sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures that can occur on the slopes.”
To help ensure those embarking on snow sports prepare correctly, Smartplay, Sports Medicine Australia’s injury prevention program, offers the following tips:
Undertake good preparation
- Undertake pre-season conditioning and training to build up your fitness, strength and flexibility.
- Novices should take ski/snowboard lessons to develop skills and safety techniques.
- Don’t ski/snowboard to warm up. Warm up and stretch before any type of activity and cool down and stretch afterwards.
- Assess the ski and weather conditions and your skill and fitness level before skiing/snowboarding.
Wear the right gear
- Seek professional advice when choosing or hiring equipment. Select equipment suited to your activity, skill level and size. Also ensure equipment is in good working order.
- Wear clothing, including gloves and a warm hat that is waterproof and breathes. Layer clothing so you can remove layers to control your body temperature.
- Ensure boots are fitted and comfortable, durable and waterproof, with thermal protection.
- For snowboard novices, soft-shell boots are recommended.
- Snowboards should be attached to the rider by a leash to prevent injuries to others on the slopes.
- Eyewear that gives UV protection and a sunscreen with a high SPF should be worn, even on cloudy days.
- Children and young adolescents should wear helmets.
- Adult novices should consider helmets.
Learn good technique and practices
- When skiing, hold your poles correctly. Put the strap on your wrist and then hold the ski pole so that the strap is included in your grip.
- Be aware of the grading of ski runs. Only ski on runs suited to your skill level.
- Do not ski too fast or out of control and stay away from out-of-bounds areas.
- Never ski/snowboard alone.
- Always inform someone of where you are going, how long you will be gone for and the time you expect to return.
- Adequate rest, nutrition, hydration and regular snacks will enhance performance and reduce injury risks.
- Do not ski/snowboard under the influence of any alcohol. Alcohol negatively affects performance and can contribute to hypothermia.
For more tips download the Smartplay Cross-Country Skiing, Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding Fact Sheets at www.smartplay.com.au
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