As the snowflakes begin to fall, skiers and snowboarders are eager to hit the slopes. We all want to maximize our time and enjoyment on the mountain, while minimizing risk.
For the most part, a little common sense and proper preparation can go a long way in avoiding injuries. Many slope side accidents happen due to fatigue or poor judgment. The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine offers the following tips to avoid injury.
Proper instruction: Before getting on the slopes, it’s important to know the basics of how to ski. Instruction is invaluable for everything on safe ski techniques and etiquette to properly fitted equipment. They’re also trained to determine if you’re ready to take on more challenging terrain and tricks as you progress.
Appropriate equipment: Bad equipment can be so much more than just uncomfortable. It can also be dangerous. In fact, old or just improperly adjusted equipment is the most frequent cause of injuries. Protective equipment is a must, too. Helmets can prevent disastrous, even fatal, accidents. In terrain parks, wrist guards and elbow and kneepads save riders from friction burn, as well as injuries. The use of protective equipment has been associated with a 43 percent decrease in the rate of head, neck, and face injuries.
Parental oversight: As parents pass on their love of skiing or snowboarding to their kids, they also need to make sure their children stay safe. Their guidance goes a long way teaching kids to ski within bounds, under control and at proper speeds. They can also make sure their children are getting enough rest breaks and rehydrating when necessary.
Common sense precautions: Tiredness and hunger can hurt on the slopes. Resting every couple of hours and staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to avoid injuries. In addition, be sure to watch for changing snow and ice conditions as the day progresses. An easy trail can become hazardous in the final hours of the day. Abide by all signs and warnings on the slopes.
The good news is that many of the more serious ski injuries have been decreasing season over season. According to the National Ski Association, better bindings and boot systems on the market have resulted in fewer broken legs. In addition, knee injuries have declined with the introduction of shorter skies. More skiers and snowboarders are also wearing helmets, resulting in a 50 percent decrease in head injuries over the past ten years, according to the NSAA.
Of course, minor aches and pains are to be expected after any day of downhill but they can usually be eased with a nice soak in the hot tub. Have a wonderful ski and snowboard season and as I always like to say, Safety first. No one is going to have fun in the emergency room.