The winter season brings new opportunities to enjoy nature and, as the temperature drops, more and more people from our region are heading to the slopes. As much as skiing, snowboarding, and other outdoor activities are good for the body and mind, they also present unique risks for injury. Here, we discuss common wintertime injuries and offer tips to protect yourself this season.
It’s hard not to love the full-body sensation of speeding down a snowy mountain. Understandably, you don’t want an unexpected injury to take you out. However, snowsports can cause a wide variety of musculoskeletal injuries. Everything from the ankles and knees to the wrists, hands, and shoulders are vulnerable during winter activities. Some of the injuries orthopedic surgeons routinely see at this time of year include:
- Ankle sprains. The ankle may get sprained if the foot turns, twists, or rolls more than its normal range of motion allows. A sprain indicates a ligament injury. This is one of the most common traumas to occur while skiing due to the skis “catching” in the snow.
- Skier’s thumb. Yes, this is a real thing! Skier’s thumb is another common injury, which happens when one falls on an outstretched hand while holding their ski pole. In this instance, it is the ulnar collateral ligament that is damaged.
- A shoulder dislocation occurs when the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is forced out of the shoulder socket during a fall.
- Rotator cuff injury affects the muscles or tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint. Like a shoulder dislocation, the rotator cuff may sustain an injury when one falls on an outstretched hand or directly onto the shoulder.
- In our New Jersey office, we see everything from finger, ankle, and wrist fractures to the other injuries mentioned each winter season. Fractures are particularly common skiing incidents related to falls.
- We cannot forget to mention that the knee joints are can also be injured from twists and extensions.
Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Snow Sports Injuries
- Do not ski “cold.” Of course, it’s going to be pretty chilly outside if you’re skiing! However, stretching and even jumping up and down for a few minutes warms up the muscles before demanding physical activity.
- Wear adequate protective gear and ensure your skis or snowboard are in proper working order. Wrist guards alone prevent a lot of unnecessary injuries each year.
- If you fall, tuck and roll; resist the urge to extend your hand to catch yourself.
- Stay alert on the slopes. A large number of injuries occur when the conditions on the slopes change, such as snow becoming packed and icy.
- Stop when you get tired. Taking that “one last run” could be the trigger that leads to an injury.
Find Orthopedic Care in New Jersey
Snowsports are engaging and exciting. Unfortunately, accidents can happen. If you are facing a hand, arm, or shoulder injury after a skiing or snowboarding accident, it is important to see an experienced specialist for diagnosis and treatment. We are here to help you. Contact us, (973) 942-1315 to schedule a visit with us.