More than 12 million of us in the UK are preparing to jet off on Winter holidays, according to the Association of British Travel Agents. Are you one of them? If so, are you prepared as best as possible to avoid any winter sports injuries? These range from pulled muscles, cuts and bruises, to more severe injuries.
Winter sports is a popular choice of holiday
For many of us it is the lure of the ski slopes that has us packing our bags and heading to the airport. Particularly among younger travellers, skiing and snowboarding have never been more popular winter holiday pastimes.
But, while most of us return with nothing more than winter sunburn or a few pulled muscles as a souvenir of the holiday, for others their exertions on the slopes can leave them with strains, sprains, dislocations, fractures and in worse cases, more severe injuries.
Injuring ourselves on the ski slopes comes at a high personal and financial cost.
According to an article in The Guardian stressing the importance of taking out travel insurance, being stretchered off a mountain by helicopter comes with a price tag of around £500 to £1,000 in Europe and £1,000 to £2,500 in America. Being flown home from a holiday with a fractured hip can be as much as £20,000 from the US.
And once we’re home from our holiday, this can simply be the start of a long and painful road to recovery.
So, what can we do to prevent ourselves from getting injured in the first place?
Because while the maxim is true – accidents do happen – there are certain factors that make them more or less likely.
A high number of these injuries occur at the end of the day when you may be tired or cold. There is a tendency to want to complete “just one more run” before heading home but this is the time when we are most likely to overexert ourselves or damage a ligament or tendon that has become cold so it’s a good idea to quit while you’re ahead.
Top Tips to protect yourself on the slopes this season
Here are some other simple things you can do to protect yourself while you’re out of the slopes:
- Never go out alone to do a winter sport and always abide by local rules.
- Warm up properly as cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more prone to injury. If you feel you are getting cold or tired or you are in pain, stop.
- It is a good idea to build up your fitness before going on a Winter sport holiday if you can. The fitter you are, the less of a shock it will be to your muscles and tendons.
- Wear appropriate protective gear and check it before you head out onto the slopes. Many ski insurers now recommend ski helmets. You should also wear goggles, gloves and padding.
- Check your ski equipment is in good condition and is properly fitted.
- Do not ski or snowboard while under the influence of alcohol. Not only will this make you more likely to take risks, but it could also negate your travel insurance if you do get injured.
- Wear several layers of light, loose clothing for warmth and protection. Choose water-resistant, wind-resistant fabrics. Layering adapts better to changes in temperature and keeps you warmer than fewer layers of thicker clothing.
- Wear proper footwear that provides warmth and dryness, as well as ample ankle support.
- If you are a novice, consider having lessons from a qualified instructor. Learning how to fall correctly and safely can reduce the risk of injury.
- Listen out for cold weather and storm warnings and make sure you know what to do if anyone in your group gets injured.
- Seek shelter and medical attention immediately if you, or anyone with you, is showing signs of hypothermia or frostbite.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after activities.
- Have fun and come home with nothing more than memories to remind you of your holiday.
If you do find yourself injured on your return, seek the help of a doctor as soon as possible. Their advise is likely to be able to speed up your recovery and relieve your pain in the safest, most efficient way.