The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Winter Sports Injury Prevention: The 4 Most Dangerous Sports and Safer Ways to Approach Them

Posted by on Friday, November 21st, 2014

Happy (official) “First Day of Winter!” Not to put a damper on the celebration for all you Winter fans, but more than 310,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms and doctor’s offices for winter sports injuries in 2012, according to the last available data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Skiing topped the list of dangerous sports–accounting for 120,000 injuries, followed by snowboarding (98,000), ice skating (53,000), and sledding (40,000). The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC lets you know how most winter sports injury accidents occur and what you can do to prevent them.

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Skiing is the most dangerous winter sport, but it’s also one of the most fun. Image Source: Skistar Trysil

Common Winter Sports Injuries

Skiing: We see all kinds of skiing injuries, including fractures, dislocations, damaged ACLs and MCLs, shoulder injuries, and ankle sprains. Younger patients often have trouble steering and collide with stationary objects, causing spinal fractures. Older patients tend to have more of the soft tissue injuries because they are out of shape or persist in skiing even when they are tired or feel pain.

Snowboarding: Snowboarders tend to have fewer knee injuries due to the way they’re bound to the board. However, broken wrists and snapped ankles are all too common. To avoid cracking a wrist, practice your landings; rather than hitting the ground with your arms outstretched protectively, you want to tuck and roll like you’re parachuting. To prevent ankle injuries, be sure your foot does not slide around inside your boot. Opt for a more rigid hybrid boot style, rather than soft boots.

Ice Skating: Ice skaters commonly suffer concussions, which are very preventable when one wears a helmet. To avoid blisters, make sure your skates fit comfortably. You also want to be sure you are laced up tightly to avoid ankle sprains. Distraction is a big cause of collisions and fractures, so always watch where you are going, never wear earphones or talk on a cell phone while skating, and look where you’re going when skating backward. Knee pads and wrist guards are good equipment for inexperienced or young skaters as well.

Sledding: Sledders most frequently veer off their sledding paths, into trees or other sledders. Thirty percent of kids hospitalized with a sledding injury hurt their head, with ten percent of those children suffering a permanent disability. We recommend that all kids wear helmets while sledding. Other injuries include fractures, organ injuries, fractured vertebrae, and chest trauma. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises:

  • Do not sled on public streets near parked vehicles, curbs, or fences.
  • Do not sled on plastic sheets that can be pierced by sharp objects.
  • Do not sled headfirst.
  • Bring a parent with you.
  • Use a sled with a steering mechanism and runners.
  • If sledding at night, be sure the area is well-lit.

Fatigue, Stiffness & Dehydration Are Issues with Any Winter Sport

Often, our patients become injured at the end of the day on “that last run,” when fatigue and discomfort set in. No matter how “in-shape” you are, the body has a tough time staying in peak form after a grueling eight-hour day. Don’t ignore aches and pains; these are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. As with any workout, you’ll want to stretch and warm up before and after to diminish stiffness. Prior to participating in winter sports, you should be in good shape–regularly exercising and strength-training. Otherwise, you are likely to suffer some soft tissue injury. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your activity.

Winter Sports Injury Doctors in NYC

Schedule a consultation with our sports medicine experts for the treatment of acute or chronic winter sports injuries in New York City. Our center has all the latest tools to offer you a wide range of treatment options for your injury–from casting to orthotics, homeopathic remedies to surgery, and cortisone shots to shockwave therapy. We generally start with the least invasive treatment to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.