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Preventing Winter Injuries

Preventing Winter Injuries

It’s time to welcome the glowing “ember-ending” months to beautiful BC. We can take to the slopes to ski, sled, snowboard, toboggan and hike or get out on the playground for some soccer or rugby. We can go to the rink to figure skate, play hockey or skate recreationally or take to the hardwoods for volleyball or basketball and such.  Recreation is royalty in BC. Unfortunately, all this comes at a price – the potential for dislocations, fractures, sprains, strains and pains – all requiring attention.

Fortunately, many of these injuries are preventable. It’s, perhaps, most important to realize that many sports injuries occur at day’s end when we’re tired. That’s when we are more likely to make mental and physical errors. For example, the injury that comes on that last downhill run of the day or last minute rush to the net can be avoided if the participant has already prepared for such an eventuality by keeping in good physical condition, staying alert and stopping before fatigue and pain has gone to 7.3 on some variation of the Richter scale.
Whether you’re into outdoor or indoor “ember” month sports, warm up before playing. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are vulnerable to injury whether you’re indoors or out. Abide by the rules of any sport you play. Break ‘em and they can break you. Drink plenty of water before, during and after any strenuous athletic activity. That wet sweater you pull off after hockey didn’t put on all that weight from picking up ice crystals. Avoid participating in sports when you are in pain or exhausted. Only pros get paid for a “no pain, no gain” policy.
With BC up to its snow peaks in mountains, skiing and snowboarding are primary outdoor “ember” month activities. Before you even hit the slopes, take at least one lesson from a qualified instructor. Learning how to fall correctly will reduce the risk of injury. Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding. Check that your equipment is in good working order and always use the correct equipment (no bike helmets for skiing).  Wear several layers of light, loose and waterproof and wind-resistant clothing for warmth and protection. Layering allows you to moderate your body’s constantly changing temperature. Proper footwear provides warmth and dryness, as well as ankle support.

Pay particular attention to the weather report – catch those warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature. Never participate alone in a winter sport. Seek shelter and medical attention immediately if you, or anyone with you, is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite. Make sure everyone knows how to get help if an injury occurs, BEFORE anyone takes off downhill.

ORTHOTICS

You may need orthotics if you notice any of the following

  • one side of the sole of your shoe wears out faster than the other;
  • you frequently sprain your ankle;
  • you have chronic heel, knee or lower back pain;
  • your shins hurt;
  • your toes are not straight;
  • your feet point inward or excessively outward when you walk; or
  • your feet hurt in general.

When you’re putting your best foot forward, remember that the foundation for your entire body is your feet. That’s why orthotics, which are shoe inserts engineered to help your feet maintain the alignment of the body, are so darned important. If you’re out of alignment, your whole body can suffer. If the ankles break down, the knee bends inward, the hip drops and the back tries to compensate, straining muscles from the lower back to the shoulders. With orthotics, the heel and ankle are realigned, the knee straightens and the hips realign. Your entire body is in better balance, you’re more stable and you feel “comfy.”

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