4 Tips for Preventing Winter Sport Injuries

Spring is here in the bay area but ski season is still going strong up in the mountains.

Wearing proper protective gear will go a long way in preventing winter sports injuries, especially in the event of a fall.  However, keeping your body in good condition is the best way to not only prevent a fall but to improve your body’s reaction during one.

Here are 4 things you can do to keep your body in top condition and to prevent injury:

1 – Warmup before you hit the slopes

Muscles get tighter when the temperature drops, and your blood vessels contract so you’re more likely to get exhausted or develop muscle cramps. A thorough warm up helps increase the blood flow to the working muscle which results in decreased muscle stiffness, reduced risk of injury and often, improved performance. The warmup also adds psychological preparation for the more extreme exercise ahead. Both skiers and snowboarders should focus on leg and core warmup exercises, and though beneficial for both, skiers especially should add shoulder warmup exercises. Some exercise ideas include

Stretching your arms, legs and back
Arm circles
Twisting your upper body
Squats
Jumping rope or running in place
 

2 - Stay hydrated

Make sure you drink plenty of water before heading out and keep drinking it throughout the day. The cold weather may mask it but your body is still sweating to release the excess heat generated by exercise. It’s also losing more water the faster you breathe. If you’re not replacing all that water you will become dehydrated which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking. Dehydration can also reduce endurance, decrease strength, cause cramping, and slow muscular response.  If the day goes by and you don't feel the need to pee or your pee is much darker in color you may be at risk of dehydration.

3 – Know and respect your limits

If you haven’t developed sufficient lower body strength avoid the steep slopes that demand a lot of power from your legs to maintain control.  Avoid the mogul fields if your agility needs work. Most importantly pay attention to how tired you are before going all out for that last run of the day. Most injuries happen around that time. As the primary muscles you’ve been using all day begin to fatigue your body starts recruiting secondary muscles to help.  This alters your form and puts demands on other muscles that aren’t prepared for it.

3 – Strength Training

Get to the gym on those days in between your trips to the mountains.   Put together a strength training program for the muscles you’ll be using most.  Which, let’s face it, is most of the muscle you have. However, muscles to target include:

Quadriceps

Hamstrings and Glutes

Inner and Outer thighs

Calves

Abs and Back

Arms.

Building up the strength and endurance in these muscle groups will give you more control to enjoy the sport and reduce your risk of injury.

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