It can be incredibly frustrating… you’ve looked forward to your winter holiday for months and, then, after only a day or two on the slopes, you fall badly and hurt yourself. Why should you not ignore the signs of injury or strain?
The temptation can be to press on, just keep going. After all, what difference can it make to postpone getting it looked at for a day or two? Actually, probably quite a lot.
Prevention is best for an enjoyable winter sports break
Exercising in a cold environment puts your ligaments, joints and muscles under extra strain. And winter sports like skiing and snowboarding come with a high risk of injury. Put the two together and it can be a recipe for strains, sprains and fractures
There are lots of things you can do to avoid getting injured in the first place, including:
- warming up thoroughly before heading out on the slopes
- wearing the right protective gear
- listening carefully to advice from people who know the area
It’s also important to listen to your body and to know when to stop. If you are tired or in pain, this is particularly important because that is when you are at greatest risk of hurting yourself.
Causes of injury
Among the most common reasons that people get injured on the slopes are:
- faulty equipment or using it incorrectly
- trying to do more than they are capable of
- poor technique
- landing badly after a jump
- sudden change of direction
- falling at high speed
Possible treatments for common winter sports injuries
If you do get injured, these are some of the most common injuries that can occur… and their possible treatments.
Torn knee ligaments – including the Anterior Cruciate Ligaments and Posterior Cruciate Ligaments – these types of tear make the knee unstable and can cause it to lose its full range of movement with time.
Treatment: ranges from surgery to a functional knee brace to provide stability, along with physiotherapy.
Ruptured Achilles tendon – this is a tear in the tendon connecting the heel bone to the calf muscle. Tendonitis can also occur during winter sports as a result of overuse.
Treatment: ranges from surgery to casting / walking boots and foot orthotics to reduce stress on the tendon.
Sprained ankle – this occurs when the ankle twists abnormally and the foot rolls over the ankle.
Treatment: ranges from surgery to an ankle brace/boot that immobilises the ankle, allowing the injury to heal. A foot orthotic can then be used to reduce the tendency for the foot to roll over the ankle, if necessary.
Lower back pain – cold environments cause ligaments to weaken or become stiff which can result in sprains in the lower back.
Treatment: careful assessment with possible scans if necessary. Often can be managed with simple painkillers, gentle mobilisation and appropriate physiotherapy.
Muscular strains – these are common and may be the result of overuse.
Treatment: Often can be managed with simple painkillers, gentle mobilisation and appropriate physiotherapy.
Whether your injury is straightforward or complex, the result of trauma or overuse, it is important to get it checked by a professional as soon as possible and to take remedial action to avoid causing permanent, long-term damage.