Many individuals love to engage in skiing and snowboarding during the winter season. Despite the high fun factor of these snow sports, some are not prepared for the rigorous physical demands that these activities place on the body. Even though considered as safe sports, unexpected snow sport injuries can occur with poor preparation, changing snow conditions or poor judgement. Various snow sports injuries can be prevented by proper physical preparation, suitable and properly adjusted equipment as well as common sense.
Causes of snow sport injuries
Various snow sport injuries that are traumatic in nature are caused by being on treacherous terrain, falls, lift accidents and collisions. In most cases, fatigue after a long day on the slopes or poor judgement can be considered as culprits. The common issues that predispose an individual to snow sport injuries include the following:
- Snowboarding or skiing without any breaks or attempting a technique above the ability level.
- Incorrect or faulty equipment
- Fatigue and dehydration
- Poor adjustment to the altitude
- Skiing or snowboarding off the trail or in closed areas
- Ignoring the posted warning signs
Common snow sport injuries
There are various types of snow sport injuries that involve several parts of the body. The common injuries include the following:
- Spinal injuries
- Anterior cruciate or collateral ligament injuries
- Closed head injuries
- Shoulder dislocations or fractures
- Shoulder separation
- Wrist, hand or thumb injuries
- Lower extremity fracture
Management of snow sport injuries
Luckily, most cases of snow sport injuries are minor and can be managed by observing a rest period as well as using a brace, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and avoidance of secondary injury. Nevertheless, some cases that involve fractures and ligament injuries might require surgery with a recovery period that ranges from 3-6 months or longer.
Observing proper instruction and equipment
Instruction before heading to the slopes is vital in preventing snow sport injuries. The instructors teach beginners regarding the importance of proper warm-up and cool-down, well-fitted equipment and safe skiing and snowboarding techniques. In addition, the instructors can determine at what point it is suitable for beginners to progress to more advanced levels of terrain.
Proper equipment is also vital to safety. Poor functioning or incorrectly adjusted equipment is the frequent cause for snow sport injuries. The bindings that are too slack or tight as well as equipment that are incorrectly sized or used on improper terrain can lead to injuries as well.
Preventive equipment such as helmets can be used to prevent fatal accidents. In terrain parks, elbow and wrist guards as well as knee pads are also recommended. The use of protective equipment can minimize the risk for neck, head and facial injuries while engaging in snow sports.