Stay safe on the slopes

The Taos News - - SPORTS - By Sheila Miller [email protected]­news.com

The hol­i­days bring time to­gether and, for many, time on the slopes. Snow sports are in­her­ently dan­ger­ous, in­clud­ing high speed, ob­sta­cles both seen and un­seen, ex­treme tem­per­a­tures, and the un­pre­dictable ac­tions of other skiers and board­ers.

Ev­ery year, hun­dreds of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans are in­jured par­tic­i­pat­ing in snow sports, most es­pe­cially ski­ing and snow­board­ing. Many of those hurt or killed are chil­dren.

Many in­juries and deaths are pre­ventable. Here are five ways to have fun safely on the slopes.

— 1— Wear a hel­met.

Ap­prox­i­mately 20 per­cent of the snow sport in­juries for which peo­ple seek treat­ment are head in­juries. With speeds between 15 and 65 miles per hour and higher for recre­ational skiers, preven­tion of head in­juries is es­sen­tial.

Re­mem­ber that you aren’t the only one out there. Be­ing skilled and cau­tious aren’t enough.

— 2— Pro­tect your wrists and hands.

For snow­board­ers and fea­ture park vis­i­tors: Wrist guards are proven to re­duce the in­ci­dence and sever­ity of wrist in­juries, in­cludes sprains and frac­tures. With­out them, many breaks are se­vere enough to re­quire surgery.

For skiers: Hold your poles rather than place your hands through the straps. Break­away straps pro­tect you from in­jury when your pole is snagged be­hind you, but not when you fall. Hav­ing the pole in your hand is what causes “skier’s thumb,” a sprained or bro­ken thumb due to fall­ing on the pole.

— 3— Use equip­ment prop­erly ad­justed for your body.

Knee in­juries, es­pe­cially tears to the an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment are one of the most com­mon in­juries among skiers. Such in­juries oc­cur al­most ex­clu­sively when a skier falls back­ward. Be­cause the toes are in boots bound to the ski and can­not move, the knee takes the force of the fall.

Have all ski and snow­board bind­ings ad­justed to your phys­i­cal di­men­sions and skill level. Do re­search into dif­fer­ent types of bind­ings, the types of ski­ing they are best-suited for, and how bind­ings in­crease or de­crease in­jury rates.

— 4— Be alert and fresh.

Rest – don’t ski or ride when tired.

Fa­tigue in­creases risk of in­jury. Ac­cord­ing to Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for Or­tho­pe­dic Sports Medicine web­site StopS­port­sIn­juries. org, most in­juries on the slopes oc­cur in the af­ter­noon when peo­ple are men­tally less alert and phys­i­cally tired. Wear lay­ers to keep your­self com­fort­able in a va­ri­ety of con­di­tions, wear gog­gles and sun­screen, eat and drink wa­ter. Not only are you less likely to get hurt, you’ll have more fun.

— 5— Con­sider pad­ding for knees and shoul­ders.

Shoul­der in­juries are com­mon in snow sports. Both skiers and snow­board­ers fall on their shoul­ders. Older ath­letes have lower bone den­sity and a cor­re­spond­ing in­creased risk of shoul­der in­jury.

Hockey play­ers don’t take the ice with­out knee and shoul­der pads. Any­one who vis­its the fea­ture park is also en­gag­ing in a con­tact sport and should pro­tect them­selves ap­pro­pri­ately.

The in­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle came from pub­lished med­i­cal jour­nals in­clud­ing the Jour­nal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, the Jour­nal of Pe­di­atric Surgery and Sports Medicine.

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Ev­ery year, hun­dreds of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans are in­jured par­tic­i­pat­ing in snow sports, most es­pe­cially ski­ing and snow­board­ing. Many of those hurt or killed are chil­dren.

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