How can I prevent winter sports injuries?

For advice, we turned to an expert in sports injuries, Dr. Karen Sutton, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine.  Dr. Sutton writes:

"If you are hoping to get out and hit the slopes, shoot some slap shots/hoops or sprint on an indoor surface, you may want to continue reading!!

"First off, if you happen to be in a chilly environment it is important to prevent hypothermia—keep your inside temperature status quo.  Here’s how…

  • Prevent your own heat escaping by wearing a hat and layering clothing
  • Wear an under-layer that “wicks”—assisting sweat from staying around your skin
  • Layer with the inner wicking layer, followed by a warm fleece or thermal layer and then finally top off with a wind repelling layer
  • Stay hydrated
  • Pack a few energy snacks if you will be out for more than an hour

"Protect your body from the pounding of a hard surface…( basketball court, ice rink, indoor track)

  • If you have the opportunity to select a more forgiving surface, do so.  Examples would be a rubberized indoor track, a well-made basketball court with cushion and a well-kept hockey rink. Appropriate surface conditions make a huge impact on injury prevention.
  • Be sweet to your feet.  Make sure your equipment/footwear is of adequate fit and support.  Try them on in the store with your usual socks and ask for the assistance of the retail salespeople to fit your feet.
  • For skiers, always check to make sure your skis, bindings and boots are tuned-up.

"Double-check your medications…

  • Winter is a season for colds and therefore, antibiotics!  Certain antibiotics, such as fluoroquinolones, put your tendons at risk when participating in jumping and sprinting sports.  Talk to your doctor about any risks of medications.
  • Consider adding Vitamin C (combat illness), Zinc (prevent colds), and Vitamin D (diminished with lack of sunshine)  in the form of a well-balanced diet or vitamin supplementation.  Check with your doctor before adding vitamins and/or supplements.

"Avoid overuse injuries…

  • Pre-condition your body for your sport.  Work on both cardiovascular fitness and overall strength and conditioning (dynamic weight training).
  • Cross train:  It is important to take one to two days a week to condition your body in other ways from your usual sport.  Examples include dry-land training for hockey, elliptical/cycling for indoor track,  and plyometric training for mogul skiing.
  • Plyometrics is great for all sports to prevent injuries (including anterior cruciate ligament ( ACL) injury and ankle sprains).  Plyometics may include box jumps, multi-directional lunges and trampoline training.

"Here’s to happy and healthy training!!!"

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