shutterstock_72142033_dFf7nuu.jpeg (shutterstock_72142033.webp)This winter not only brings snow days and a festive season, but some fun winter sports as well. While these can be a great way for families to do activities together, or for anyone to get some exercise in the cold, it comes with risks as well. Many people injure themselves or develop health problems if they are not taking proper safety measures when participating in winter sports. Taking a family ski trip, going on a winter hike, playing hockey and more can all be dangerous if you are not prepared. That’s why we’ve outlined 4 tips for you to stay safe while enjoying your winter sports this year.

  1. Stay in Shape

    Before you engage in any winter sports this season, make sure that you are in shape and that your muscles are properly conditioned. Core strengthening, stability training, hip strengthening, and more can keep your body in good condition to minimize any risks of injuries. Most professional athletes who compete in winter sports have an extensive regimen of strength conditioning, a nutritional diet, and getting enough sleep.

    Not only should you prepare leading up to the sporting event, but you should also warm up immediately before the exercise. Warming up before physical activity is always a good idea, but it is especially important before intense exercise in the cold, as cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are more prone to injury. Some dynamic stretches and light exercises can help you ease into the sport.

  2. Prioritize Protection

    Protection is a must when it comes to sports, especially winter sports like skiing, hockey, ice skating, or even running in the snow. Make sure you are wearing the proper gear for whatever winter activity you will be engaging in. Protective gear like helmets, goggles, knee and elbow pads, and more can help you avoid getting injured.

    You should also test any equipment you will be using. Make sure that all of your gear and equipment is in working order before you head out into the snow. Make an effort to be aware of all safety rules at the place that you are exercising. For instance, if you are skiing or snowboarding, stay on the marked trails and make sure you know how to get on and off of the ski lift.

    Finally, know your limits. Only choose routes and maneuvers that you know are in your skill level. If you are getting tired, don’t be afraid to stop or take a break, as accidents are more likely to happen when you are fatigued.

  3. Dress For the Cold

    It will come as no surprise that the weather will be chilly, but there is a lot that goes into properly dressing for winter exercise. Wearing layers is a great way to accommodate your body’s constant changing of temperature.

    Clothes that become damp from sweat can lower your body temperature. Wear a breathable, loose base layer, one or two insulating layers, and a wind and water resistant outer layer to ensure you stay warm and dry. You should also wear proper footwear that keeps your feet warm and dry, as well as providing foot and ankle support.

  4. Worry About the Inside, Too

    While you should worry about external injuries, don’t forget to protect yourself from internal issues such as dehydration. Staying hydrated during any physical exercise is important, but it is imperative during the colder months. Try to drink plenty of water before, during, and after the activity.

    You should also be on the lookout for hypothermia or frostbite. Some symptoms of hypothermia to look out for are: shivering, exhaustion, fumbling hands, and confusion. You and your loved ones should also check for signs of frostbite, such as: numbness, a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels firm or waxy.

    If you or anyone you are with is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite, you should seek medical attention immediately. Make sure that you are aware of the facility’s medical accommodations or locations before you start.

Whether you are an experienced athlete or a family looking for fun in the snow, winter sports can be a great way to exercise in the cold. While it comes with risks, as long as you are prepared and take safety precautions, you will have a great time. If you are preparing for a winter sport, Connected Health(opens in a new tab) offers sports physicals and an array of fitness programs including sports training, personal training, and more.

Connected Health in Wexford, Pennsylvania is a concierge primary medicine practice that believes strongly in putting the focus back on the patient. We offer a variety of services ranging from primary care to fitness programs. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, learn more about our care services, or want to explore your membership options, give us a call at (724) 933-4300. You can also book an appointment online!