How to Prevent Injuries During Outdoor Activities – River Journal Online – News for Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Irvington, Ossining, Briarcliff Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, Cortlandt and Peekskill

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A sports medicine specialist offers safety tips for children and adults going outdoors for winter sports and activities.

From skiing snow-capped mountains to lacing up ice skates, the winter season offers a variety of fun, family-friendly activities for people of all skill levels. But winter sports also come with unique safety risks due to bulky equipment, slippery surfaces and freezing environments.

“Staying warm, staying loose, staying fit and knowing your limits are great ways to reduce the risk of injury while enjoying winter sports,” says Dr. Elan Goldwaser, pediatric and adult sports physicianh NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Here, Dr. Goldwaser, who is also the team physician for the US Ski and Snowboard Association and treats athletes at the NewYork-Presbyterian Sports Performance Institute in Scarsdale, shared with Health matters tips to help children and adults stay safe while enjoying winter sports and activities.

Regroup

With temperatures often well below zero, it is important to protect yourself against frostbite. Dr. Goldwaser recommends dressing in layers – a thermal base layer of stretchy, moisture-wicking material to keep you warm and dry, a mid-layer of heavier cotton or polyester to keep the heat in. inside and an outside layer to protect you. wind and cold air. “Remember that while you can always remove layers if it’s warmer, you can’t add them,” he says. “So dress warm and adjust your layers if necessary.”

Stretch before and after

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When you’re in cold weather, your muscles can tighten up, so the best way to combat this is to stay loose, says Dr. Goldwaser. “The most common injuries we see in winter sports are sprains to ligaments and muscles. So touching your toes, leaning from side to side, all of these simple stretches can help relax your muscles and help you avoid those sprains and strains.

The best thing to do, he says, is to stretch right before you put on your ice skates, skis, snowboard or hockey skates. Also, be sure to stretch after activity to relax cold-tense muscles.

Strengthen your hips, ankles and feet

Staying conditioned is very important, says Dr. Goldwaser. “With a strong core and good hip strength, you’re less likely to fall, especially in sports like ice skating or skiing, which require a lot of balance,” he says. He recommends doing exercises to strengthen your core and glute muscles, such as hamstring stretches and plank variations. Yoga, he adds, is great for balance.

When wearing ice skates or ski/snowboard boots, ankle and foot strength is also critical, especially if you have a history of rolling or sprained ankles. Using resistance bands to pull your foot in all directions can help build ankle stability and strength. Dr. Goldwaser also suggests wearing a lace-up ankle brace or even extra thick socks while skating or skiing to prevent rolling your ankle.

A great exercise to strengthen your foot is the “towel rub”. This involves laying a towel flat on the floor under your foot. Sitting in a chair, crumple the towel with your toes and hold it there for a second or two. “Doing this exercise over several weeks will really improve muscle strength and balance in your foot,” he says.

fall safely

Learning to fall on hard, slippery surfaces is important for injury prevention, says Dr. Goldwaser. For example, don’t put your arms out in front of you to stop yourself if you fall. This can lead to bone fractures in the wrist and arm. “When you land on an outstretched arm with the elbows locked, you are loading the elbow joint quite heavily. With this heavier force passing straight through, you are putting not only your wrist, but also your elbow at risk of fracture,” says Dr. Goldwaser Instead, he says, try falling on your shoulder, knees or butt if you’re snowboarding or on your side if you’re skiing so your body can absorb the impact more. safe.

It is also important to be aware of your surroundings when falling. Ice skate blades are sharp, notes Dr. Goldwaser, so if you fall while skating, don’t leave your limbs or hands spread out on the ice or you might see someone skating on it. If you fall while skiing or tubing, try to hurry to the side of the slope and look up to make sure no one is coming directly at you.

Don’t ignore the pain

While it’s easy to get bumps and bruises from falling, what you think is just a bruise can sometimes be worse: a stress fracture. “Stress fractures, or microfractures on your bones, occur because you are doing too much activity too quickly and your bone is not structurally ready to handle the workload you put on it,” says Dr. Goldwaser . A bruise usually occurs from hitting a part of the body against something, whereas a stress fracture is a deep, gradual pain directly on a bone that hurts badly when pressed and may or may not be associated with a small bruise .

A stress fracture in the foot can start to feel better if you take off your skates or skis, which leads many people to try to “play with the pain”, he says, but continued activity can lead to worse results. “If a person keeps pushing, the bone can’t handle the amount of stress, and all these little micro-fractures add up to one big fracture in the bone.”

The best thing to do for a stress fracture is to reduce activity to the point where you don’t feel pain and rest the bone, says Dr. Goldwaser. If you do, this type of injury will usually resolve itself in about six weeks.

Wear the equipment correctly

Wear protective gear like a helmet if you’re skiing or snowboarding and wrist guards if you’re snowboarding, says Dr. Goldwaser. But it is also important to know How? ‘Or’ What to carry your gear. Ice skates or ski boots, for example, should be a bit larger than your regular shoes to give your toes room to wiggle. “As we plant our feet and propel forward, our toes spread into the shoe and grip,” he explains. With a skate or boot a little larger than your usual shoe size, “your toes will have the proper room to move. Otherwise, the bones start to crack and that’s where the injuries start to happen.

If you have flat feet and aren’t wearing the right support to maintain your arch, the ankle can roll inward, putting your ankle, knee, hip, and back at a biomechanical disadvantage. This instability from not having the proper alignment can start to strain your bones and muscles, putting you at risk for further injury, he says. Children and adults with flat feet can purchase over-the-counter inserts to provide additional arch support in their gear.

Know your limits

Whether you are new to or experienced in the sport, you need to know your limits. “Stop when you’re tired,” advises Dr. Goldwaser. “Don’t try to push yourself if you’re not ready because that’s when you can really hurt yourself.”

For more stories about science, care and wellness, visit healthmatters.nyp.org

Elan Goldwaser, DO, is a sports physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and assistant professor of sports medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. He cares for athletes of all levels and ages, with a specialization in in-office interventions that accelerate healing. Dr. Goldwaser is team physician for the US Ski and Snowboard Association, chief team physician for Fordham University Athletics, team physician for New York City FC, and ringside physician for the New York State Athletic Commission.

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