As sad as it is to see summer go, winter is now just around the corner, and that means the ski, skate, sled, and snowshoe season is upon us. Everyone loves to get out and enjoy the beautiful activities that our chilly season has to offer, but winter sports also provide a whole range of new possibilities for slips, spills, and total wipeouts.
While these incidents are a cost of doing business when it comes to winter sports, it’s important to prepare yourself beforehand, to make sure that you come out with just a bruise, not an ambulance ride. Here are some sensible safety tips for staying safe outside this winter:
Helmets, Helmets, Helmets
Whether you’re shredding a double black diamond on your skis, or learning to skate, head injuries are the most worrisome part of winter sports. From concussions to fractures, there are many dangers to your skull, brain, and neck from winter sports. It’s no secret that wearing your helmet at all times while skiing, snowboarding, skating, and even sledding, is crucial, but there are other factors to consider too.
Making sure you have the proper helmet (a bike helmet won’t due for playing hockey) and the right fit (snug to your head and tight under your chin) will ensure that your helmet will work as advertised when you need it to the most.
Another constant to winter sports is falling. Ice, snow, and the side of a mountain share a few characteristics, but the key thing here is that they’re all slippery. Part of improving in your sport is taking a few crashes while you push your boundaries, so learning how to properly fall is a great way to prevent these lessons from turning into injuries. Proper falling includes:
- Protect your head by tucking your chin and turning your face away from the ground
- Aim to land on your side, rather than your front or back
- Keep your arms and legs bent as you fall
Always Obey Mountain Rules
For the most experienced and talented skiers and snowboarders, hitting the backcountry is one of the most exciting and liberating feelings. However, going outside of marked ski areas has great risk attached to it. The uncertainty of the conditions, and avalanches in particular, means that you are stepping into a dangerous situation, without the same support systems as within the ski area. If you plan on backcountry skiing, ensure that you are well trained in avalanche situations, and that you have all of the proper emergency gear. In the case of an avalanche:
- Try to move yourself to the side of it, where it moves slower
- Swim through the snow like you would in the ocean to keep your head above water
- Always carry an avalanche beacon
Drinking water during the summer is second nature, but the cold winter weather is often more conducive to hot drinks like tea or coffee. Underneath all of your snow gear, your body is still sweating a lot, and these hot drinks actually work to dehydrate your body even further. Make sure that you get enough water while you’re outside this winter, to prevent the brutal symptoms of dehydration. This can lead to fatigue, poor decision making, and mental fog, all of which can become very dangerous very quickly while on the ice or the mountain.
If after implementing all of these safety tips, you still end up with a nagging injury this winter, make an appointment with the caring, knowledgeable staff at Petett Chiropractic, to get your spine and back back on track.