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While many people turn to the local gym for exercise during the winter season in Colorado, a growing number of Coloradoans are realizing the fun, as well as the physical benefits of participating in a variety of winter sports. These activities allow the athletes from the Denver metro area to stay in shape while being involved in sports different than those of the summer season. Of all the winter sports participated in by non-elite level athletes, the two most popular in the mountain states are most likely skiing and snowboarding. Other common activities engaged in y those who love the snow and ice include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice-climbing, cross-country skiing, and ice-skating.
THERMAL INJURIES IN WINTER SPORTS IN DENVER, COLORADO
One thing that all winter sports have in common is that they all occur in cold weather. The most common injuries sustained during cold temperatures are due to overexposure to tissues of the body. The overexposure can occur from one of two sources, either from skin that is not covered during very cold temperatures, or from extended time spent outdoors in temperatures that are not necessarily below freezing.
Like injuries that result from overexposure to the heat, cold weather injuries vary from mild to life threatening, based on the severity of the coldness as well as the amount of time that the individual is exposed to cold temperatures. Frostbite, a common injury seen in cold temperatures, occurs to skin that is uncovered in cold temperatures as well as to the fingers and toes where circulation is relatively poor. Frostbite is serious and should not be taken lightly. In the most severe cases, frostbite can lead to permanent disfigurement and/or amputation of the involved body parts.
The easiest way to treat frostbite is to prevent it in the first place. Wearing appropriate clothing for winter temperatures, and covering as much skin as possible is an easy and effective way to avoid the painful and long lasting effects of frostbite. Clothing is best worn in layers over the torso and legs. Hands and feet are especially susceptible to frostbite due to the lack of blood flow in these regions.
Hands should be covered with mittens or gloves (mittens are better for hand warmth than gloves because keeping the fingers together allows the fingers to keep each other warm). Using a thin glove liner will also allow an additional layer of warmth during cold temperatures. Foot warmth is achieved by wearing a thin sock liner followed by a sock designed to wick away moisture while maintaining heat. The socks should be placed in the appropriately sized shoe. If the shoe is too tight when the socks are on, circulation will be decreased and the feet will get cold much faster.
If exposure to the cold has been extensive and frostbite is suspected, a medical examination is required. Symptoms like disorientation and an inability to communicate effectively may mean serious thermal injury that could be life threatening.
Bottom line: Take care of yourself by dressing appropriately, and limiting your time in cold temperatures (the colder the temp. the less time you should spend outdoors).
Summer is not the only time to be sure that you’re getting enough water. In fact, making it a point to drink water during winter sports is critical because it is not uncommon for the cold temperatures to make you shy away from taking in fluids like water. While hot chocolate, cider and the like taste great on a frigid day, they do not replace the fluids lost during activity. In fact, the sugars present in these drinks may actually hamper your performance hours after taking them into your system.
GETTING READY TO PLAY
Being on the slopes, at the rink, or in the woods is awesome! To be sure that your time outside meets your expectations this winter, spend some time preparing your body so that you can enjoy your winter experience to the fullest.
Getting your legs in good condition is key to getting the most out of your skiing and boarding experience, as well as for a great session of skating, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. A good overall conditioning program should include training of the legs two times per week.
Squats, whether done with proper form in the gym or simply by standing against a wall with knees bent for 20-60 seconds at a time are very effective for building the front muscles of the thigh. Lunges are a great exercise for developing strength in the hamstrings and glut’s. Calf development is important to maintain stamina for skiing and boarding over a long day or an epic weekend. To train these important muscle groups, stand on your toes, holding for a count of “2” at the top of the motion. To strengthen the muscles on the front side of the shin, stand on your heels, point your toes upward, and hold for a count of “2”.
While the legs are vital in carrying out performance in winter sports, the abdominals are an equally important muscle group in achieving a peak level of performance. The abs are a part of the core of any athletic endeavor. Strengthening them will help ensure proper trunk motion as well as increasing the time that you are able to spend outdoors. The abs may be strengthened via crunches on the floor, a variety of machines found in the gym, or movements performed with the aid of a gym-ball. Ab exercises should be performed at least three times per week for best results.
A general strength and conditioning program for the upper body is extremely valuable to increasing performance in your winter sport. Whether done in the gym using free weights and machines, or done at home through push-ups and isometric movements, upper body strength will help with power and balance while performing your outdoor activity.
In addition to a good strengthening program to improve your performance, implementing a comprehensive stretching routine to give your muscles good flexibility. This will not only improve performance, but will help prevent injury. Stretching will keep the muscles in the proper tone to go through the rigors of a day of flexing, bending, twisting and moving through a variety of positions. A good stretching program incorporates a warm up before stretching, as well as stretches for all of the major muscle groups of the body (and specific stretches for any body parts which have sustained a previous injury).
In the unfortunate event that you are injured while playing your winter sport, there are some basic principles to remember that will get you back into the action as quickly as possible. First, if the injury seems severe, or doesn’t steadily progress in the days following the injury, get medical attention. Delaying treatment to an injury is the surest way to delay your return to participation as well as putting you in a position that will leave you susceptible to an additional injury in the future. Second, for any new injury, apply the rule of RICE as quickly as possible: R=rest I=ice C=compression E=elevation. Following the RICE formula will reduce swelling and allow a more rapid healing to occur. Third, know when to say “when”. Continuing to participate while injured exposes you to further damage to the affected area, and could therefore expose you to an extended absence from your sport until the injury can be taken care of.
Winter provides some of the most incredible opportunities to enjoy a workout in the outdoors. Proper preparation both before and during the season will ensure that you achieve the highest levels of performance possible while keeping you safe to enjoy your sport until the last bit of snow and ice has melted in the spring.
If you have questions regarding any information in this report, please call one of the qualified health care professionals at Lifetime Health and Wellness.