Tips to Prevent Injuries While Enjoying the Season

Orthopaedic surgeons provide tips to protect bones and joints before heading outdoors

ROSEMONT, Ill., Dec. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Participating in winter sports and outdoor activities is a common way to boost both one’s physical and mental fitness during the coldest months of the year. However, these pastimes also carry unique risks of injuries due to bulky equipment, slippery surfaces and frigid temperatures. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) encourages winter athletes of all stripes to exercise cautionary measures to ensure strong musculoskeletal health throughout the season.

“Participating in sports always presents an increased risk of orthopaedic injury, but colder weather and icy areas compound the issue,” said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Catherine Logan, MD, MBA, PT, FAAOS. “Winter sports require their own strategies, such as properly fitting helmets and mindfulness of which trails have been prepped for activities like snowboarding and skiing, to ensure safety.”

Winter sports injuries are preventable, especially when armed with knowledge about common pitfalls and how to avoid them. Understanding the most common of these injuries and the reasons they occur is the first step in avoiding them.

Causes of Winter Sports Injuries
More than 110,000 people were treated at hospitals, doctors’ offices, and emergency rooms for injuries related to winter sports in 2021, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This figure includes:

  • 57,000 injuries from snow skiing and snowboarding (51.44%)
  • 17,000 injuries from ice hockey (15.49%)
  • 17,000 injuries from sleds, toboggans and snow discs (15.45%)
  • 14,000 injuries from ice skating (12.64%)

Tips to Reduce Risk for Winter Sports Injuries
According to Dr. Logan, there are many ways to reduce your risk for winter sports injury. She notes that while collisions and falls constitute a significant portion of trauma, excessive speed, adverse conditions, overconfidence or lack of fear are also common. Consider the following:

  • Warm up thoroughly before playing or participating. Cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are vulnerable to injury.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding.
  • Wear several layers of light, loose and water- and wind-resistant clothing for warmth and protection. Layering allows you to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature. Wear proper footwear that provides warmth and dryness, as well as ample ankle support.
  • Take a lesson (or several) from a qualified instructor, especially in sports like skiing and snowboarding. Learning how to fall correctly and safely can reduce the risk of injury.
  • Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature.
  • Seek shelter and medical attention immediately if you, or anyone with you, is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite. Make sure everyone is aware of proper procedures for getting help if injuries occur.

For more information about winter sports injury causes, symptoms and treatments, visit OrthoInfo.org. Additional tips for preventing cold-weather injuries, including proper snow-shoveling techniques, are also available.

About the AAOS
With more than 39,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS is the trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health. It provides the highest quality, most comprehensive education to help orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals at every career level to best treat patients in their daily practices. The AAOS is the source for information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related musculoskeletal health care issues; and it leads the health care discussion on advancing quality.

Follow the AAOS on Facebook, X, LinkedIn and Instagram.

SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


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