Timely warning about snow safety from Sports Medicine Australia

Canfan 3 July 2014


Looking around at the snow on the mountains it’s easy to picture the hive of activity taking place up in the ski resorts, particularly given the start of school holidays. Most of us will have either had a ski injury or know of someone who has. My experience is mostly with knees. As tempting as it is to get off the couch and hit the slopes, Sports Medicine Australia have some advice on snow safety.

Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) is urging all snow sports enthusiasts to make safety their first priority this snow season, with thousands of holidaymakers set to converge on the slopes following one of the biggest snow dumps in recent years.

Both skiing and snowboarding carry a high risk of injury, with recent hospital data revealing nearly 3000 Victorians were treated in hospital for snow sports related injury during the 2010 to 2013 snow seasons.
Of those admitted to hospital, broken bones were the most common injury with 60 per cent reporting fractures, while dislocations and sprains comprised 20 per cent of injuries. Falls were the most common cause of injury.

Sports Medicine Australia spokesperson and Sports Physiotherapist Rosemary Riley said good preparation is the key to minimising injury risk and getting the most out of the snow season.

“Skiing and snowboarding are both physically demanding sports that require flexibility, balance and quick reflexes, as well as strong lower limb and trunk muscles and a good overall level of fitness,” Ms Riley said.

“Regardless of whether you are a novice or the most experienced skier or snowboarder, it’s important to make sure you’re adequately prepared before hitting the slopes this season.

“With the big snow fall coinciding with the start of school holidays, parents should also ensure children are well prepared, only ski or snowboard when accompanied by a responsible adult and are fitted with appropriate equipment, clothing and protective headgear.

“With good preparation, many injuries on the snow slopes can be avoided.”

To be safe on the slopes this season, follow SMA’s top injury prevention tips:

Undertake good preparation

  • Undertake pre-season conditioning and training to build up your fitness, strength and flexibility. Focus on strengthening the quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups to improve knee control to help negotiate moguls.
  • Take ski/snowboard lessons to develop skills and safety techniques.
  • Don’t ski/snowboard to warm up. Warm up and stretch before any type of activity and cool down and stretch afterwards.

Wear the right gear

  • Seek professional advice when choosing or hiring equipment. Select equipment suited to your activity, skill level and size.
  • Wear clothing, including gloves, that are waterproof and breathe. Dress in layers so you can adjust them to your body temperature.
  • Make sure boots are fitted and comfortable, durable and waterproof, with thermal protection.
  • Protective headgear may prevent head injuries and is recommended for children.
  • Use skin and eye protection. Despite the cold conditions, UV is often high so use a suitable sunscreen and wear sunglasses or tinted goggles to protect against skin injuries such as sun and wind burn or eye irritation.

Learn good technique and practices

  • When skiing, hold your poles correctly. Put the strap on your wrist and then hold the ski pole so that the strap is included in your grip.
  • When snowboarding, make sure your snowboard is attached to you by a leash, to prevent injuries to others on the slopes.
  • Be aware of the grading of ski-runs. Only ski on runs suited to your skill level.

For further safety tips and resources on snow sports visit www.sma.org.au/resources-advice/

(Media Release SMA)

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