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Stay Injury-Free This Winter

Lemak Sports Medicine & Orthopedics Demonstrates How to Stay Safe

By Dr. Mike Patterson

Winter is the season in which people participate in activities like snowboarding, skiing, ice skating, or sledding. If proper precautions are not taken, a serious injury can occur. According to the 2007 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 684,740 winter-related sports injuries were reported. You don’t want to spend your getaway with a broken leg, sprained ankle, or dislocated shoulder. Lemak Sports Medicine & Orthopedics advises you to keep the following preventative measures in mind before participating in any winter sport or activity.

Warm-up muscles prior to participation in any cold weather activity. A moderate warm-up and stretching route will prepare your body for physical activities.

Be aware of pre-existing conditions that may affect your tolerance in cold weather. (Never participate with an injury.)

Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you cannot become dehydrated.

Wear protective clothing and gear. Properly-fitted clothing and gear will help protect you from an injury.

Make sure any equipment you use isn’t damaged. Equipment that is unsafe could pose a hazardous situation.

Monitor environmental conditions. Be advised that weather conditions­­ can quickly change—resulting in potentially dangerous situations.

Avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages. Consuming alcohol while engaging in winter sports causes dehydration and is dangerous to you and others. An injury may not be as obvious if you are intoxicated.

Don’t push your body beyond its physical limits. Know your body’s limits and do not exceed your boundaries. Avoid participation if you experience pain.

Allow your muscles to recover during a cool-down period. A cool-down activity allows your body to return to its normal temperature.

Engage in post-activity stretching exercises. This will help maintain muscle balance, while reducing muscle soreness.

Seek a medical professional if an injury occurs.

Early recognition and appropriate treatment for cold (and heat) illness is essential. Look for signs of vigorous shivering or irregular heartbeat. Note: Temperatures can rise during the winter so be mindful to avoid heat cramps or exhaustion.

At Lemak Sports Medicine & Orthopedics, our number one goal is returning you to your pre-injury level of competition. We strive for nothing less. We have an experienced team of physicians, certified athletic trainers, and physical therapists at four locations around the Greater Birmingham Area. For more tips on how to stay injury-free this winter or to make an appointment, please call our Alabaster clinic at (205) 358-9120 or visit us on the web at www.LemakSports.com.