Winter brings colder weather and fun activities, but can present unique circumstances when participating in sports or other outdoor recreation. Slippery ice, snow, or just the cold temperatures can surprisingly result in a wide range of orthopedic injuries from minor sprains and strains to more serious fractures of the hip, knee, or shoulder. Here are some tips for avoiding winter injuries
- Layer up: This is the easiest strategy to protect yourself from the cold weather while enjoying outdoor activities with friends and family. Depending on the activity level or the change in the weather, you can easily slip on or off layers of clothing.
- Have a firm foundation: Use footwear that offers good insulation and traction. Make sure your shoes have enough room to accommodate thick socks that will keep your feet warm. You can also consider wearing slip-on ice cleats for added traction.
- Warm up: When it’s cold outside, this is especially important. Take the time to stretch and perform some lightweight exercises to warm up cold and stiff joints and muscles. Many sports injuries such as ligaments, tendon, or muscle tears can be attributed to jumping straight into activity without warming up.
- Protect yourself: When participating in winter sports, use appropriate helmets, pads, goggles, and shoes.
- Use extra caution: During icy conditions, take short strides rather than long ones. Don’t rush yourself and use a handrail when taking the stairs. Also, don’t multitask and be mindful of where you are stepping. What looks like a puddle of water may actually be a sheet of ice.
- Drink water: In the heat of summer, drinking water may seem more natural, but it’s just as important in the winter. The likelihood of dehydration is higher when you are playing sports in cold weather, especially at high altitudes. Make sure you drink enough water before, during and after your activity.
Don't let your winter fun be interrupted with an injury. Following these tips can help you enjoy your activities safely all season long.
Dr. Yaser A. Metwally is board-certified by both the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada. He received his fellowship of Reconstructive Surgery from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and specializes in hip and knee replacement surgery