Winter Athlete? Here are 8 ways to keep yourself safe!
As February heads toward March, we've got one more round of cold weather to give us our winter sports fix. The end of the snow season is one of the best times to hit the slopes--but it's also when sloppy mistakes can lead to some of the worst injuries.
Whether you're a seasoned athlete or strapping on skis to try your first bunny slopes, these tips will help keep you safe in the snow. (P.S. If you're ever worried about trying something new, chat with your doctor before trying out a new sport!)
- Don't burn too hot too fast. It's cold out there! Expecting your cold muscles to perform at their best without the proper warm-ups is one of the most common ways people get injured. Start with gentle warm-ups like stretching, arm rotations, and jumping jacks to get your muscles moving and your heart rate up.
- Stay hydrated. During winter, it can be tough to notice when you're actually getting thirsty. Make sure to take regular breaks to drink water, eat a snack, and take a breather. Your muscles will thank you for it!
- Keep yourself protected. Depending on what winter activity you're preparing for, protective gear should be at the top of your list. Many skiiers and snowboarders wear helmets, wrist guards, sunglasses or goggles, and pads to avoid the worst effects of a complete "yard sale" wipeout. Don't forget eye protection--snow glare and dry eye are at their worst during winter!
- Double-check your equipment. Whether you're renting a snowboard or choosing from your collection of Olympic-quality skis, take time to double-check your equipment before you hit the slopes. A broken latch or busted strap can wreak havoc when you're flying too fast to fix it.
- Brace yourself. One of the first lessons we learn as baby ski bunnies is how to fall safely. If you're just starting out, this is the most important lesson to learn: falling wrong can lead to broken wrists, strained muscles, and torn ACLs. (We know that last one from experience!) Make sure you practice falling backward and forward, and learn safe methods for bracing. If you're not sure where to start, a beginners' lesson with a certified instructor is always a good investment!
- Bundle up! Yes, you'll be working hard out on the slopes, but you still need to keep yourself protected from the weather. Invest in the proper snow gear like pants and coats, along with moisture-wicking base layers--for both sweat and wayward snowballs--that keep you dry, warm, and mobile. (Pro tip: Never, ever ski in jeans!)
- Cardio, cardio, cardio. We get it--winter is for hibernation, not getting in shape! However, having good breath control and strong core muscles will help you stay balanced and strong. One of the easiest ways to get hurt is to take on more than your body is actually able to handle. Skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports are often so much fun that we want to keep going, even when we're out of breath and shaky. That leads us to our final point...
- Stop when you get tired. Your body knows its limits. If you're gearing up for your first ski day in a decade, you're not going to be able to get in as many runs as you did when you skied all winter. When you feel yourself getting tired, take a break. Drink some water, have a snack with plenty of salt, and wait until your breathing and heart rate have settled before you head back out to the slopes.
Enjoy these last few weeks of winter! Warm weather is on its way, but the slopes are open a little longer. Here's hoping the lift lines aren't too long!