3 Expert Tips to Ward Off Athletic Injury This Winter
Health and Nutrition Whether you’re a first-timer or an Olympic hopeful, here’s what you need to know in order to hit the slopes safely this winter.
Any sport you take part in will place a unique set of demands on your body. One of the most important things you can do to stay injury-free in your sport or sports in general is to prepare your body properly and over time.
Injuries typically occur because individuals place a greater load on their body than the body is equipped to cope with. It can happen suddenly for acute injuries or gradually over time for overuse injuries.
1. Start with conditioning
There is good evidence that sportspeople can reduce their risk of injury by following a physical conditioning program that aims to strengthen their muscles, and thereby their biomechanical movement patterns. Research has demonstrated that the benefit of such training can in fact halve the number of injuries in some sports. However, you must start early and do this training continuously over time to achieve the desired effects. Starting a couple of weeks before the season starts is too late.
2. Know your limits
Also remember that when participating in sport and physical activity, you are exposing yourself to injuries, so try to be aware of your own fitness and skill level. If you are a beginner, have not skied or snowboarded in a while, or have not been able to prepare properly for the season, it might not be a good idea to go straight to the double black diamond ski slopes or to terrain parks with jumps and rails for more advanced-level athletes. Don’t overestimate your ability, but start at a level that is appropriate for you, one where you — rather than the slope and the skis or board — will be in control of your movements.
3. Properly equip yourself
Another way to limit the risks of injury is to use the right equipment. When going alpine or freestyle skiing, the number one rule is to set a sufficiently low resistance of your binding to allow for a quick and easy release of the ski should you fall. It is not uncommon that novice skiers tend to tighten their binding too much, resulting in the ski not releasing when a fall occurs. This can lead to quite severe injuries, such as knee ligament injuries and leg fractures. A second piece of important safety equipment is a well-fitted helmet. Regardless of the skiing or snowboarding style, a well-fitted helmet is crucial to protect your head from trauma. The same goes for wrist protectors for snowboarders. Many World Cup alpine skiers exposed to very high speed and long jumps also wear back/spine protectors, however the value of such equipment for recerational skiers is still up for debate.