The cold of winter is no excuse to stay indoors. Many people look forward all year to the first signs of snow to dust off skis, skates, or their favorite sleds while others take the opportunity to learn a new skill such as snowboarding. All of these wintery sports are a great way to get out of the house and stay active during the winter, but as with all sports and activities, there is potential for injuries when taking part in winter sports. Broken bones and concussions are the most common winter injuries but luckily, they are preventable with the right precautions.
Get in gear: The number one thing to remember when getting back into a winter sport or starting one for the first time is to invest in the proper gear. Snow isn’t always as soft as it looks. Wearing a helmet is essential for skiing or snowboarding in case of a nasty spill. It might not be the latest fashion trend, but even the pros wear a helmet. Also, if you’re brushing off equipment after months in storage, be sure to check that it is still in working order.
Slow and steady: After months off the slopes, it can be very exciting to literally jump back on, but it’s important to take your time and know your limits. Build up your confidence with a few runs on a lower level slope to get the feel back into your legs before going for the gold on the mountain’s most difficult slope. For beginners at skiing or snowboarding, these sports might look like little more than sliding down a hill, but getting a few lessons before heading to the ski lift will help lay the groundwork for good technique and reduce the likelihood of injury.
Know before you go: Whenever you’re outside in the cold, whether for a weekend ski trip or heading to the backyard for sledding, checking the weather and preparing for the outdoor conditions will help keep you comfortable and having more fun. If snow is in the forecast, be sure you have the proper accessories like a hat or ski goggles to stay warm and keep snow out of your eyes. If it looks as though the afternoon will be warmer than the morning, layer up! Being able to add or remove layers can help regulate body temperature and prevent overheating.
Protect your skin: The two most-forgotten winter safety precautions are wearing sunscreen and staying hydrated. Sunlight may not be as direct in the winter as it is in the spring and summer, but being outside for an extended amount of time can still result in sun burn. Also, the air is a lot dryer in the winter than in the summer. That is why many people experience dry skin and chapped lips during cold months. Consistently drinking water is important so that your body doesn’t get dehydrated during outdoor activity.
Staying active in winter is good for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and for getting rid of the cold weather blues, and taking some precautions beforehand will help ensure nobody comes home with broken bones!