Enjoying Winter Sports Safely

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Winter is officially here and the team at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists (SOS) encourages you to enjoy winter sports safely to avoid injury. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recently released tips for protecting your bones and joints while participating in outdoor winter activity.

Winter sports injuries are preventable, especially when armed with knowledge about common pitfalls and how to avoid them. Understanding the most common of these injuries and the reasons they occur is the first step in avoiding them.

“There is always a risk for injury during any physical activity, but colder weather and icy conditions present additional challenges,” said Dr. Ryan Smart, from the SOS Sports Medicine team. Dr. Smart, a winter sports enthusiast and youth hockey coach, continues, “Being prepared with proper equipment and training and knowing the weather conditions are important to consider before heading outdoors in the winter.”

Causes of Winter Sports Injuries

More than 110,000 people were treated at hospitals, doctors' offices, and emergency rooms for injuries related to winter sports in 2021, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This figure includes:

  • 57,000 injuries from snow skiing and snowboarding (51.44%)
  • 17,000 injuries from ice hockey (15.49%)
  • 17,000 injuries from sleds, toboggans and snow discs (15.45%)
  • 14,000 injuries from ice skating (12.64%)

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Whether you’re bound for Rockefeller Center, stay local to ice skate at Meachem Rink, or head to a nearby ski area for a day on the slopes, be prepared and follow some commonsense guidelines.

Tips to Reduce Risk for Winter Sports Injuries

There are many ways to reduce your risk for winter sports injury. While collisions and falls constitute a significant portion of trauma, excessive speed, adverse conditions, overconfidence, and lack of fear are also common. Consider the following:

  • Warm up thoroughly before playing or participating. Cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are vulnerable to injury.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding.
  • Wear several layers of light, loose and water- and wind-resistant clothing for warmth and protection. Layering allows you to accommodate your body's constantly changing temperature. Wear proper footwear that provides warmth and dryness, as well as ample ankle support.
  • Take a lesson (or several) from a qualified instructor, especially in sports like skiing and snowboarding. Learning how to fall correctly and safely can reduce the risk of injury.
  • Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature.
  • Seek shelter and medical attention immediately if you, or anyone with you, is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite. Make sure everyone is aware of proper procedures for getting help if injuries occur.

This winter, enjoy the outdoors while following the recommended precautions from SOS.  Should you be injured, SOS PLUS After Hours Care is available. A walk-in orthopedic medical clinic that treats patients of all ages with acute orthopedic conditions requiring immediate attention, SOS Plus is located at 5719 Widewaters Parkway in Dewitt.  Hours are weekdays from 5 pm – 8:30 pm, and weekends 9 am – 1 pm. For more information, call 315-883-5652 or visit www.sosbones.com.

Dr. Smart's Interview on Spectrum News:

Dr. Smart on Spectrum News - Winter Sports Injury Prevention


Dr. Todd Battaglia Interviewed on Bridge Street:

Dr. Todd Battaglia on Bridge Street Giving Winter Sports Safety Tips