Staying Injury-Free This Winter
-- The first
snow brings with it visions of skating, skiing, snowboarding and other
winter sports activities. "It's easy to rush out to embrace these
sports before you're physically ready," says Dr. Franklin Kase, DPM,
and vice president of the California Podiatric Medical Association
However this enthusiasm can lead to injuries if you aren't mentally and physically prepared for winter conditions.
The CPMA suggests the following tips to help you prepare for and remain injury-free this winter:
Exercise year-round. This helps adjust your body to the strenuous
movements winter sports require. If your body is not in good shape,
start with a conditioning routine. Jogging, walking, weight lifting,
blading, biking and aerobics are good preparations.
Stretch beforehand. On the day you're heading for the great outdoors,
stretching exercises should be done before each activity. Hold each
stretch for at least 10 seconds and do not bounce while stretching.
equipment that fits. If you're a skier, pay careful attention to how
your ski boots fit. According to the CPMA, this is one of the most
important pieces of equipment that will help you stay injury-free.
the proper equipment for your size and skill level. For skiers, buy the
best bindings you can afford. Ski bindings that do not properly release
during falls are the leading cause of severe lower-extremity skiing
before you leap. Snowboarding, which is becoming the fastest growing
winter sport in the United States, entails a high risk of injury,
especially for people who do not learn about proper techniques and
equipment. If you're a beginner, take a few lessons to help minimize
alert. In extremely cold weather, the feet, which are furthest from the
heart, often lack sufficient blood flow to stay warm. Over-exposure to
the cold causes the blood vessels in the feet to constrict, which can
lead to frostbite. Symptoms include the skin changing color to blue
— then to whitish — and then the feet feeling like they are
burning or numb. To avoid blood vessel constriction, podiatric
physicians recommend avoiding caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, prolonged
exposure to wetness and extreme cold and tight-fitting footgear.
up. Even skiers and snowboarders who consider themselves experienced
should start with a warm-up on a lower-level slope before hitting the
it: "The bottom line," says Kase, "is to prepare, pay attention to
conditions and listen to what your body is telling you, and you'll be
on your way to a safer, healthier winter season."
Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing