Go for the Gold When It Comes to Winter Sports Safety

By Dr. Craig Beaudis

Some of us will spend hours watching the best amateur athletes from around the world compete for gold during the 2014 Winter Olympics in the next few weeks.

These athletes are highly-trained and talented in events like skiing, ice skating, speed skating, bobsledding and hockey. Sometimes, they make success look so attainable that they inspire us to lace up our ice skates or jump on our sleds in a quest to duplicate their feats.

But while participating in winter sports can be good for the body and mind, as with any physical activity, it requires some planning and caution to avoid injury.

“Common winter sports injuries include sprains, strains, fractures and dislocations in the foot and ankle,” said Dr. Beaudis, a podiatric physician with Ankle & Foot Care Centers. “Many of these injuries can be prevented if precautions are made. A fun day on the slopes or rink can easily end with a trip to the hospital unless safety is a priority.”

Dr. Beaudis and the group of podiatrists at Ankle & Foot Care Centers, the region’s largest podiatric care provider, with physicians and surgeons serving patients at 20 local offices, offers these safety tips when participating in winter sports:

Participate with a partner. If possible, skiers, snowboarders and sledders should stay with a partner and within sight of each other. Also, make sure someone who is not participating is aware of your plans and probable whereabouts before heading outdoors.

Check the weather for snow and ice conditions prior to heading outdoors. Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature. Make adjustments for icy conditions, deep snow powder, wet snow and adverse weather conditions.

Know and abide by all rules of the sport in which you are participating. Take a lesson from a qualified instructor, especially in sports like skiing and snowboarding. Learning how to fall correctly and safely can reduce the risk of injury.

Dress for the occasion. 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.

Also wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding and check that all equipment is kept in good working order.

Warm up thoroughly before playing and exercising. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are vulnerable to injury. It’s important to warm up by taking it easy on the first few runs.

Drink plenty of water before, during and after activities.

Always carry a cell phone in case of an emergency.

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.

If you were to experience a cold weather related injury, visit your physician ASAP or go to your closest emergency room for immediate treatment to avoid any long-term consequences.

For more information about foot and ankle care or to schedule an appointment, call Ankle & Foot Care Centers at 888-881-8805.

Advertisements