• So Cool: Skiing, Snowboarding and Safety

      Feel that chill? For some, fall is just a precursor to the joys of winding down the slopes on the opening weekend of their favorite ski resort. That’s why getting the most out of a quick trip to the mountains means getting prepared now through exercise and the proper equipment.

      It seems obvious, but simple endurance exercises are important to staying safe this winter. Did you know that most skiing and snowboarding injuries occur after lunch because we’re tired? Any good cardio exercise will keep your legs from turning into jelly and reduce the risk of falling. Conditioning your hamstrings and quadriceps is a good place to start, so if you haven’t focused on your lower body as much this summer, you should try to incorporate lower extremity strengthening exercises into your weekly workouts.

      Before you’re on the mountain, it’s important to know that skiers and snowboarders are prone to different types of injuries. Wrist injuries are more common in snowboarders, while skiers are more prone to knee injuries, especially their ACL’s and collateral ligaments. Skiers’ poles also make them vulnerable to the dreaded “skiers thumb,” a type of injury to the interior ligament of the thumb that can quickly put an end to any more skiing for the season.

      Consider this startling fact: Beginners make up more than half of all injuries in any given year, something to keep in mind when you find out your kids want to take up snowboarding for the first time this year. The most effective guard against injuring your wrist while snowboarding is a wrist guard. The problem used to be that snowboarding safety equipment was about as comfortable as being wrapped in Styrofoam. But today there’s an entire industry based around gloves with protective guards built into the lining, lightweight helmets that are comfortable and aerodynamic, and goggles that don’t get completely fogged by the first run.

      Wrist guards have been shown to reduce the risk of hand, wrist and forearm injuries by 85%. The physicians here at Manhattan Orthopedics, rarely, if ever, come across a patient who has fractured their wrist while wearing a wrist guard. In fact, the most common response we hear is usually, “I should have worn a wrist guard!”

      Skiing and Snowboarding can be fun, but it’s easy to forget how physically demanding each of these sports are as well. Preparing yourself over the coming weeks will ensure that you have a safe and fulfilling season of winter activities ahead of you.