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how to avoid the most common winter sports injuries

Posted by Sue Zagula on Wed, December 12, 2018

Winter sports are a great way to stay in shape when “Old Man Winter” rears his ugly head – but can also lead to injury! From superficial bumps and bruises, to serious head injuries, you have to be careful. The good news is there are ways to decrease your risk of suffering some of the most common winter sports injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, In 2015 doctors treated more than 246,000 people for injuries related to winter sports.  The list includes:

  • 88,000 injuries from snow skiing
  • 61,000 injuries from snowboarding
  • 50,000 injuries from ice skating
  • 47,000 injuries from sledding, tobogganing, and snow tubing

 So let’s take a look at some of the most popular winter sports and how you can decrease your chances of getting hurt.


Of all the winter sports you can try, skiing may provide the best chance for getting hurt. You’re speeding down a hill, surrounded by people, and trees. Knees, arms, and your head are most susceptible to injury when skiing, so to decrease your risk do things like:

  • Test your bindings to make sure they fit properly
  • Take frequent water breaks to stay hydrated
  • Don’t push yourself and take “one last run” when you’re already tired
  • Know your limits and stick to the trails that are suited for you

 You can decrease your risk even more by doing things like:

  • Wearing goggles and a helmet. Goggles help you see on the mountain and the helmet can prevent skull fractures.
  • Stretching or warming up your muscles before hitting the slopes.
  • If you start to fall, go with the momentum of a fall to avoid knee injuries.
  • Avoid using your arms to break a fall. You could tear your rotator cuff tear or dislocate your shoulder.


Some of the same dangers that apply to skiing also apply to sledding. You’re on a hill, traveling at a high rate of speed. It’s also very tough to steer a sled.

 Some of the most common sledding injuries are caused by collisions. Concussions top the list, so you should consider wearing a helmet on the sledding hill. People collide with lots of things while on a sled including:

  • Trees
  • Rocks
  • People

 The best way to decrease your risk of injury is to make sure your path is clear and your helmet is on before taking off down the hill.


There is a lot of protective hockey equipment available for you to wear, but the sport still has its fair share of injuries. They include:

  • Concussions
  • Separated Shoulder
  • Knee Injuries
  • Groin/Hamstring Pull
  • Ankle Injuries

 To decrease your risk of getting hurt try doing things like:

  • Avoid leading with your head if you are about to collide with another player.
  • Keep your feet wide, head up, and stick down during a check can help protect your shoulders.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself from cuts.
  • Stretch before and after a game or practice can help decrease the risk of muscle pulls.

 Ice Skating

Ice Skating is a winter sport that almost anyone can do, but you still should take some precautions to avoid getting hurt.

 Common ice skating injuries include:

  • Ankle Sprains
  • Wrist Injuries
  • Head Injuries

 To protect your ankles, make sure your skates fit properly.

 Avoid putting your hand out when you’re beginning to fall. This will protect your wrists and hands. Be sure to “tuck and roll” instead. You’re also at risk of bruising knees and elbows during a fall. If you’re not a strong skater, wearing a helmet will protect your head, just in case you hit it on the ice.

 So if you’re hoping to stay active this winter— get out there and play. But if you do suffer a bump or bruise during a game or practice, it’s good to have some ice on hand. Now you can keep some in your gym bag. You don’t even need a freezer!

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