Jan 05, 2017

Play it safe on the slopes this winter

53 per cent of skiers and snowboarders have injured themselves whilst on a winter sports holiday, according to new independent research*. With millions of Britons expected to hit the slopes over the coming months, it’s important for those planning a holiday to begin their exercise regime well in advance.

The winter sports fatality rate is approximately at one per million skier / snowboarder nowadays. Serious injuries such as paralysis, serious head injury or other serious injuries are again relatively low.

However, minor injuries in winter sports are quite common as is evident by the influx of patients during the ski season to doctor’s clinics, orthopaedic surgeons and sports medicine consultants. An audit performed by a well-known ski travel company recorded injury rates as high as 1 in 20 for their clients visiting the Alps for winter sports. It is certain that skiing and snowboarding per hour is much less dangerous than other sports in my opinion such as horse riding, football, etc.

The most common causes of snow sports injuries are collisions, poorly adjusted bindings, bad conditions such as ice or poor visibility and skiing or snowboarding out of control.

The commonest types of injuries of snow sports, particularly skiing are knee injuries whereas for snowboarders it is mainly upper limb injuries with shoulder, wrist and ankle injuries.

My top tips to reduce the risk of injuring yourself whilst on a winter sports holiday is to ensure an appropriate level of fitness before going on holiday. Also, ensure bindings are correctly adjusted, ski runs that are within your capability and be very aware of the conditions, particularly visibility and ice. It is very important to be aware of other skiers and snowboarders on your slope in order to reduce the risk of collisions and serious injuries to yourself and others.

My advice regarding quickly assessing whether an injury is serious or not is the level of pain that someone is in, but also whether there is rapid swelling of the injured area, which is usually an indication of a more serious injury.

I would certainly advise to start exercising eight weeks before your winter sports holiday in order to strengthen up and particularly your quads and improve your cardiovascular fitness. Many specialists recommend regular sports lunges a month or two ahead of the holiday to prepare and strengthen the muscles which I concur with if you are not particularly fit to begin with.

*Independent survey of 1,000 UK respondents in December 2015

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