Living Well: Play it safe this winter with smart injury prevention techniques
Tips on keeping your risk for injuries low this winter
With so many winter sports and recreational activities to enjoy this season, there are multiple injury risks for which to be aware.
With plenty of early-season snow on the ground to take advantage of, we asked the Physical Therapy department at Memorial Regional Health to provide some tips on staying safe this winter. Here’s what Athletic Trainer Matthew Hertz had to say.
Q: What are some tips to prepare our bodies for winter recreation and sports?
Matthew Hertz: Know your sport or recreation activity and know the stresses it places on your body. Some good preparation exercises can be as simple as bodyweight squats, lunges, balance work and even some light plyometric exercises a few weeks before taking part in the activity.
Remember, you probably haven’t done this activity for more than six months, and your body will need some ramp-up time to get ready to enjoy it to the fullest. All professional athletes will practice and ramp up for hundreds of hours before performing in a game or event at full speed.
Your activity/sport will be much more enjoyable if you can ease into it. Nothing ruins your winter more than an injury that keeps you away from the things you love to do. Most PTs, athletic trainers and personal trainers can help guide you with specific training needs for your sport/activity.
What are some tips for staying safe during these activities?
MH: Prepare and test all equipment that you use for your sport/activity. If your skis need to be tuned, do it! Check your bindings and boots. Tune and test your snowmobiles. Replace any worn-out, cracked or misused equipment with newer, safer equipment before heading out. Always wear your helmet.
Also, it’s important to start slowly and not at the level you did at the end of the winter last season. Stay on easier trails and groomed runs until your body remembers how to perform. Know when to pull the plug for the day, and don’t try to perform when you are fatigued. Most of the injuries we see occur at the end of the day or around last-run times.
Your activity/sport will be much more enjoyable if you can ease into it and ramp yourself up as well as stop when you are tired.
Through education, hands-on care and prescribed exercise, physical therapists can change the lives of those who are suffering from an injury, disease, disability or other condition.
As a part of the Memorial Regional Health Rehabilitation Center, patients have access to some of the best physical therapists in the region. The center offers physical therapy, occupational therapy and massage therapy services, including injury-prevention techniques, to individuals in Craig and surrounding communities.
Call 970-824-5992 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.
What are some of the most common injuries from these activities and how can PT help with treatment and recovery?
MH: Winter injuries vary due to the long list of activities, but the most common ones many people worry about are ACL tears and other knee injuries. Upper body and shoulder injuries are also very common from crashes and trying to break your fall. We also see a large influx of overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, usually due to not preparing your body for the stresses of the sport or activity.
Physical therapy is vital to guiding active individuals when they are injured. In many instances, it can help prevent further injuries by prescribing the correct exercise and movement patterns to better prepare you for the sport or activity. Also, many physical therapy clinics offer guided, preseason conditioning and workout programs to help prepare you for more specific sports or activities.
What else should winter sports enthusiasts keep in mind this season?MH: One thing to keep in mind about winter sports and activities is that almost all of them move your body at speeds that you cannot achieve on your own two legs, and there are external attachments to your body that increase forces and leverage. Try out and prepare all of your equipment in a safe environment before hitting the trail or hills to remind your body of those extra forces. This can help you figure out what you need to do to prepare for the activity and can serve as a good time to inspect your equipment for any needed upgrades or repairs.
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