Staying safe during the winter sports season doesn’t have to be hard if you follow some simple rules. To help you understand how to avoid injuries this winter, here are five sport physiotherapist tips to know before hitting the slopes.
Start your preparations well before you hit the snow
Winter sports, like snowboarding and skiing, are intense whole-body activities, and while many people will think of them as something fun to do on vacation, they should also know that they require some serious exertion, which means that it can be pretty dangerous to go straight into after a year of sitting at an office desk. So if you know you are going to be engaging in sports this winter season, start conditioning your body well beforehand.
To get the most out of your winter sports season, and reduce your risk of injury, work on your core and lower body. You will need some serious strength, endurance and flexibility to keep your body stabilised and avoid injuries from falls and overexertion.
Warm-up before you start any physical activity
As with any sport, the warm-up is vital to avoiding injuries. The best way to warm up is to start with a light aerobic exercise such as jogging, or jumping jacks if it is hard to find ample space to run. After that, you might want to move into some dynamic stretches and finish with some sport-specific exercises. While there is a discussion between the benefits of static stretching over dynamic stretching, for winter sports dynamic stretching probably has the edge. This is because dynamic stretching keeps you in motion, reducing the chance of you cooling down from the low temperature.
Always wear protection
While it might seem pretty obvious, many skip some of the basic steps to staying safe out on the snow or ice. Make sure to always wear a helmet, and ensure that it has been specifically designed for your activities, as other types of helmets may not provide proper protection for what you need. It is also important to replace any protective equipment that has become damaged, such as a helmet that has taken a heavy blow, to make sure that it can withstand the impact if you fall a second time.
Stay well hydrated
Another important point for any sport is to stay well hydrated. While the cold weather might make it feel like you are not sweating as much, or that you are not losing the same amount of water as in other sports, you are still losing a lot of fluid. Even if you don’t feel thirsty a good rule is around 350 to 500 ml of water per hour of activity to stay hydrated. You should also drink a glass or two of water when you wake up in the morning, as sleeping often dehydrates the body.
Do not overexert yourself
Finally one of the most common causes of injury during the winter season is overexertion. People will come into the season unready or simply not recognise when their body is getting tired. Not feeling tired is caused by the release of endorphins during exercise, so often it might take a while after physical activity to recognise just how tired you are. Take regular breaks and keep an eye on your energy levels, if you start to feel fatigued it might be time to call it a day.
Check out this article too: Tips from Sports Physio on How to Avoid Injuries this Footy Season