As winter sets in, many people travel to the mountains to ski and snowboard. Winter sports are popular and are a fantastic way to exercise, enjoy the fresh air, and have a good time with friends and family. Follow these tips to help prevent injuries as you’re hitting the slopes.
“Snowboarding and skiing are great ways to get whole-body exercise,” said S. Brett Whitfield, M.D., FAAOS, an orthopedic surgeon and snowboarder himself. “The differences in the sports shows up in the injuries: shoulder and wrist injuries are more common with snowboarders, and skiers are more likely to have knee injuries. Stick to slopes that match your skill level to stay safe on the slopes and enjoy your exercise, and get medical care promptly if you hurt yourself.”
Use well-fitting modern equipment in good repair
Make sure that the skis and boards you’re using are not cracked or overly worn, and that the bindings are attached securely. Wear boots and helmets that fit you. If you’re not certain if something fits well, talk to the staff at the ski shop. Modern equipment is safer than equipment from decades ago and has led to reduced injuries.
Use designated and maintained slopes
More injuries occur when people are going through the woods or are using slopes that aren’t maintained. You’re more likely to encounter unexpected natural features, uneven surfaces, or dangerous conditions than if you stick with the designated slopes.
Know your level
Beginners are less likely to be injured seriously because they stick to beginner slopes. More experienced snowboarders and skiers are more likely to try out a slope or a maneuver that is too difficult for them. You can push yourself, but don’t be overconfident.
Fuel your body
As with all exercise, drinking plenty of water and eating healthy, filling food are important ways to take care of your body. You may not be broiling under the summer sun, but your body is still expending plenty of energy.
Pay attention to the weather
If the temperature is colder than you’re prepared for or a storm is coming in, enjoy a hot chocolate in the lodge and wait for the weather to improve before you go back out.