Winter Sports By Dr. Lopez

Winter Sports By Dr. Lopez

Participating in winter sports is a great way to stay fit while having fun with family and friends. But skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating account for thousands of emergency room visits a year, so it’s important to know how to do it safely.

Any physical activity, including sports, have potential health and safety risks. You can pretty much take any risk of mild weather sports and add that extra element of low temperatures and the risks they bring.

Common winter sports injuries include fractures, sprains, strains, concussions, and joint dislocations. The location of the injuries varies based on the sport. Snowboarders have a greater incidence of wrist injuries, tailbone injuries and concussions. Knee injuries are more common in skiers, namely ACL tears.

Don’t avoid being out there and having fun!  Take precautions so you are able and fit for the entire season.

One of the more obvious differences in sports injuries is due to the cold air. You body, specifically your muscles, are cold and tight.  Winter sports demand a special warm up period with light exercise and stretching to make muscles, tendons, and ligaments less prone to injury. Light pre-slope cardio exercises will raise your heart rate, deliver heat to the muscles and temper your body for the day ahead.

Always check and test your equipment and before the season even starts. Make sure your appropriate protective gear for your sport is in good shape and properly fitted.  Hand-me-down gear may not be in your athlete’s best interest.  Wear and tear, different body types, advances in technology all play  a role when accessing the situation.

Don’t skimp on protective gear; pad those elbows and knees, guard those ankles, get a great helmet!

Wearing the right clothing is also essential. Layering is always a good consideration. A layering system usually includes three components: an inner moisture-wicking layer; a middle insulating layer; and an outer shell layer. Choose breathable fabrics, when possible, a layer of insulation, and an outside roomy layer of wind and water resistance to stay dry and warm. You should also base your clothing on your expected energy output and distance from a warmup shelter. You may want to stay away from loose, flowy fabrics and go for more of a form fitting choice to keep body temperature in and avoid getting caught on something.

Falling is inevitable. Learning how to fall safely is essential.  When you feel yourself loosing balance or control, trying to control the fall may minimize injury.  How to fall safely varies by sport. Here are two examples to show how they differ.

EXAMPLE– Snowboarding involves a great degree of balance as you have nothing to hold onto and are tearing down the slopes on a board. If possible, try to fall forward or backward. Keep your legs flexed to reduce your risk of ankle or lower leg injuries and try your best to keep your body as low to the ground as possible to minimize the impact. Bend your arms forward as you fall so the main force of the impact is on your knees and forearms to protect your wrists and hands. If you are falling backwards, avoid trying to break the fall with your arms, this may cause shoulder injuries.

EXAMPLE- Skiing differs greatly from snowboarding, falling forward when skiing can end in disaster. With this sport, the trick is to fall onto your side. Shift your skis to the left or right to alter your direction and reduce speed, and drop onto your side so as much of your body hits the ground at the same time.

Even though you are not in the heat of the sun, and probably not really feeling the thirst, you still need to stay hydrated. You should drink before, during and after your sports activity.

Certain activities, like sledding can get a bit crowded, with everyone trying to get in their run.  Pace yourself and keep your distance from other sledders to avoid collisions. Make sure to sled feet first and seated, no hot-shot daredevil positions please. Single sledders are best, you don’t want the added weight of another person which may increase the speed, and you don’t want another body to slam into if you wipe out.

If you do get injured, don’t ignore it. If you suffer a sprain or strain; rest, ice and elevate the injured area. Do not use the injured area if it causes pain.

Not sure how badly you are injured?


Nothing good will come from ignoring or toughing out an injury.

If you are experiencing orthopedic issues, Dr. David Lopez has 2 convenient offices. Awarded NJ Top Doc for consecutive years starting from 2014 to 2022, his extensive training allows him to access your needs and your medical needs to find the best solution for you and your lifestyle.


Little Silver

200 White Road, Suite 101
Little Silver, NJ 07739 Phone

 (732) 888-2100
Fax (732) 888-2188


3840 Park Avenue, Bldg. A,

Suite 101
Edison, NJ 08820
Phone (732) 888-2100
Fax (732) 888-2188

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