Preventing Winter Sports Injuries

Picture yourself swishing down the side of a snow-covered mountain, or speeding down the ice rink sticking as only you can. Let’s talk winter sports.


General Winter Rules

First, no matter what sport you play, taking care of yourself during the frosty winter months is essential, especially if you’re playing outside. Here are some tips to keep you and your body in shape for winter:

  • Dress in layers so you can add and remove when needed. Wearing breathable materials is also helpful.
  • You still need to take regular water breaks to stay hydrated.
  • Your muscles are cold too, be sure to warm them up with some stretching or light exercises.
  • When you feel tired, stop. That one last lap isn’t worth the risk of injury, and if you’re feeling tired, you are at your most vulnerable for getting hurt.
  • Whatever you do, do it with a buddy, so you’re not alone.
  • Learn the rules and the risks associated with your sport of choice and avoid breaking the rules, please.
  • Keep an eye on the weather conditions for possible storms headed your way.
  • Get medical attention and find shelter immediately if you suspect anyone is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia.

Snow Sports

If you’re into snowboarding or skiing, a bad fall can create serious medical issues. Using your arms to help cushion your fall is our natural reaction. However, it can cause injury to your shoulders and rotator cuffs. If your skis aren’t in top shape, watch out knees! Concussions are another risk because any hit to your head or face could cause your brain to move around and bump up against the walls that protect it from injury. Prevention tips:

  • Wear a helmet and goggles…always.
  • Check your bindings for a tight fit before you take off.
  • Know your skills and hang to the trails that are intended for your skill level.


As kids, most of us loved the thrill of canceled school on snow days so we could go to the nearest slope and slide down! And depending on your age, you probably didn’t wear anything more than a coat, hat, and gloves. Today, we know better, the trees didn’t move out of our way, did they? Heads, arms, and legs quickly wrap around obstacles, and at the bottom of the hill, all the other kids and sleds waiting for us to crash into them.  Prevention tips:

  • Sit up on your vehicle and face forward, that old face first, tummy slide isn’t as safe.
  • Your locality should have some approved sledding locations designated. They are typically obstacle free, so stick to the list.
  • Your sled should have both a steering method and runners. Our old inner tubes and trash lids are accidents waiting to happen.
  • Wear a helmet, especially if you’re less than 12 years old and you should also have an adult with you at that age.

Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is one rough and tumbles game with high speeds, sharp cuts and turns, sideboards to crash into and a bunch of other skaters to collide with as well. Remember, it isn’t bumper body hockey, so let’s stay safe. Hockey is an excellent game for cuts, concussions, tears in ligaments and pulled muscles. Bones and teeth have a propensity to be broken in this game. Prevention tips:

  • Your equipment has a purpose, wear all of it for every practice and every game, please.
  • Rules have a reason, ensure strict enforcement to help avoid unnecessary dangers on the ice, and with sticks, and pucks.
  • If you’re new to the game, get the necessary, basic skating skills under your belt. Practice with hockey skates, not figure skates.

Winter Injury Statistics

According to OrthoInfo, in 2015 almost 250,000 individuals were treated for injuries related to a winter sport. More specifically:

  • Snowboarding had 61,000 injuries
  • Skiing had 88,000 injuries
  • Sledding had 47,000 injuries
  • Ice skating had 50,000 injuries

Know the P.R.I.C.E

In this case, we’re not talking about any monetary values.  P.R.I.C.E is an acronym for an injury protocol that is handy dandy and easy to remember.

  • P is for protection to prevent injuries from happening and it also stands for security for an existing injury. That means you don’t want to make matters worse by putting weight on an injured leg for example. Immobilize any potential sprains, breaks, etc. with splints until you can get to your medical professional. You can use skis or hiking sticks or anything nearby to help with the reinforcement; you may need to get creative.
  • Rest is crucial! Follow your doctor’s orders, and it may not mean complete bed rest, but you need to be gentle with all injuries to give your body time to recover and heal. Some limited range of motion movements may be beneficial to the damage.
  • Ice ice, baby! Ice is going to help keep swelling to a minimum, and may also help alleviate some pain. Typically, ice for ten minutes or so and then remove the ice for one or two hours. Be sure to protect your skin from any direct contact with the ice. The injured area may turn red until it warms back up; however, if any added issues show up, please discontinue the icing and contact your physician.
  • Compression, as you know, is adding some force to the injured area. Like ice, this also helps with swelling and the added support may make you more comfortable. You can use “ace” bandages for this purpose and ensure you don’t wrap the area so tightly that it adversely impacts blood flow. If the area feels “tingly” or numb, please loosen the wrap.
  • Elevation is also another way to keep swelling low and reduce pain. It also prevents fluids from pooling at the injured spot. If possible, elevate the damaged area above heart level. You can use pillows, or stacked blankets, and elevation is most useful while you are resting during the initial 24 to 48-hour period post-injury.

Is that everything you always wanted to know about injuries? We hope so! If you have other home remedies or holistic ideas, please feel free to share them with the world in the comments section below. Tell us what helped you heal better or faster!

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Preventing Winter Sports Injuries

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