Tips For Staying Healthy With Winter Sports

Winter sports activities are becoming increasingly popular. It is estimated that in the UK over £450m is spent on snow sports each year with many people choosing a winter sports holiday in preference to an annual beach holiday. Unfortunately, pastimes such as skiing, snowboarding and skiboarding have gained a reputation of being ‘dangerous’ sports. In actual fact, for every 1,000 people on the slopes each day only 2-3 of them will require medical treatment for an injury. This makes these activities statistically much safer than playing squash, rugby or even running. However, an injury on the slopes could ruin a holiday and lead to expensive medical treatment. There are a number of tips which could minimise your own risk of injury.

Anyone on the slopes should follow the F.I.S (International Ski Federation) Code of Conduct. This is a set of 10 rules governing safety and etiquette on the slopes and should be displayed at ski resorts. If you cause an accident whilst not observing these rules you could be sued.

As with any other sport it’s important to warm up and cool down appropriately with simple stretches. Know your limitations and take a break when you are feeling tired. Most accidents occur in beginners so get some professional tuition so that the correct techniques are learnt from the outset. Alcohol and winter sports generally don’t mix well so leave the ‘apres ski’ until the end of the day and not at lunchtime.

Also consider wearing a helmet. Not seen to be the coolest accessory for the fashion conscious but it could protect you from a serious head injury.

Always hire equipment from a reputable hire company who are going to take time to ensure that any gear fits and functions correctly. If you have your own equipment, ensure it is well maintained and checked by a professional regularly. Don’t borrow equipment from a friend- studies have shown you are upto 8 times more likely to sustain an injury.

The most common injury in skiers is ligament damage around the knee joint. This is often caused when bindings do not release the skis appropriately after a fall. Test your ski bindings are set correctly each day.

Snowboarders now account for about a quarter of users on the slopes. The most common injuries are of the wrists and shoulders as you instinctively hold out your arm to brace yourself as you fall. Wrist guards have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of wrist injuries and should be worn by all snowboarders but especially beginners. Try and get into the habit of falling with your arms close to the body and fists clenched.

Skiboarding (sometimes referred to as snowblading) is the most recent of the snow sports to gain popularity. These are short skis which are normally used without poles and more commonly fitted with non-release bindings. This results in the highest rate of lower limbs fractures of any of the 3 disciplines. Certain manufacturers now produce models which are fitted with release bindings and are well worth the investment.

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