Rick Willianen, Skiing Injuries: How to Avoid Them

Cross country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding are not only great outdoor activities for the whole family; they are also fantastic ways to stay in shape and active over the long cold winter months. However, despite the efforts of ski resort staff, local governments and park and recreation officials, thousands of Canadians and Americans are admitted to hospitals annually with skiing and snowboarding related injuries.Wdomenada2003b

“There is a lot to enjoy about Canadian winters, but safety and precautions are important across all age groups,” Greg Webster, Director of Primary Health Care Information and Clinical Registries at the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI), wrote on the company’s website. Check out Skates HQ to find the safest top quality skates for men.

Approximately 15 percent of Canadians over the age of 15 reported skiing frequently in a Canadian Pediatric Society report released in 2012, while only 4 percent of Americans over the age of seven told researchers they were avid skiers. Although these numbers are small in relation to the populations they represent, skiing and snowboarding accounted for the most winter sport related hospitalizations from 2010 through 2011.

That year there were 2,329 Canadian hospital admissions for skiing or snowboarding falls and/or crashes, which is double the amount of hockey-related hospitalizations (1,114) from the same year. The other winter activities that led to extended hospital stays include: Snowmobiling (1,126), ice skating (889), and tobogganing (171).

“Every year, more than 5,000 Canadians get seriously injured—requiring at least one night’s hospital stay—due to a winter sport or recreational activity. These numbers do not include visits that involve only the emergency department (ED) or a doctor’s office, or deaths at the scene, so the total number of injuries is actually much higher,” Webster also wrote.

That doesn’t mean you should spend the months between December and April hibernating – what it means is that ensuring your family is well versed on safety procedures and techniques and is using safe and regulated equipment.

First and foremost, experts reinforce the importance of wearing a helmet. Canadians have gotten better at wearing helmets to protect their heads. In 2011, 75 percent of skiers reported using the protective headgear, according to the Canadian Ski Council. Children under 14 represented the largest group of helmet wearers, with about 95 per cent of them donning the head protection while skiing or boarding.

Avid Nordic skier and Albertan Rick Willianen enjoys the serenity and tranquility of cross-country skiing. But, at the same time, he warns that people should know their skill level before hitting the slopes.

“Being realistic about your skiing ability is one of the best ways to avoid injury,” Rick Willianen explains.

Willianen points out that even seasoned skiers need to allow time to re-acclimate to the slopes. “Unless you travel to snowy locales over the spring and summer, you will be rusty when you first head out, and you need to realize that you need to get accustomed to skiing again,” Rick Willianen adds. “It may not take long, depending on your skill level but taking it slow is paramount to ensure safety.”

Professionals also advise skiing with a partner if possible or in off peak hours to avoid crowds, bringing a small snack that can give you an energy boost, leaving the slope once you feel fatigued, and above all, take lessons to make sure you are using the proper equipment and techniques.

Canadian winters can feel extremely cold and never ending, having a variety of outdoor activities to help pass the time can make winter more enjoyable and keep you physically fit. However, like with any sport it is crucial you protect yourself and follow the rules and guidelines so you can hit the slopes with confidence and without injury.

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