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Preventing winter sports injuries as ski and snowboarding season kicks off

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- With winter in full swing, that means many Coloradans are taking to the high country for skiing and snowboarding. But with winter sports come common winter sports-related injuries.

Doctors explain it's important to warm up before engaging in a challenging activity and to stretch following the activity.

Colorado hospitals see wrist, hand, and leg injuries every day resulting from these activities.

"Know your own personal limits and not be competitive with others in your winter sports activities," St. Anthony Summit Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rebecca Blackwell said. "That's when we see a lot of those injuries when someone less experienced than their peers proceeds to try to keep up with said friends and ends up with an injury just because of a lack of familiarity with the activity and terrain."

If you're an experienced skier, boarder, or skater who doesn't engage in much physical activity in the off-season, health officials say it's still important to get physically ready a couple of weeks pre-season to make sure you have the muscle and cardiovascular strength and endurance.

"One thing people may not think about much especially as you're getting out your ski or snowboard is, how used to these things is your body," UC Health Urgent Care Medical Director Dr. Ian Tullberg said. "So if you're someone who's not very active and all the sudden ski season comes around and you go down those black diamonds, your risk of injury is much higher."

Staying hydrated and making sure to eat regularly are also important to avoid getting fatigued. Doctors explain being out in the cold gives the sensation of not feeling the need to hydrate. However, people still lose fluids during outdoor winter activities.

"The more fatigued you get, the easier it is you might fall," Dr. Tullberg said. "Then it could be a head injury, wrist injury, any type of injury. But you've gotta keep that fatigue factor as low as possible, and to do that you need nutrition and hydration."

Doctors say another important aspect of staying safe is layering clothing and covering exposed extremities. Long exposure to temperatures below freezing can cause frostbite to the nose, ears, fingers, and toes.

"You really just need to pay attention to how your body is doing to make sure you're covering up properly," Dr. Tullberg said.

If you find yourself falling, doctors suggest falling on your backside or your sides as you roll down. If you do have to fall forward, it's best to fall on your forearms and not on your hands, that's how wrists, hands, and fingers can break.

Doctors urge everyone to wear a helmet. That way, if an injury does occur, it's not a brain injury.

"Just know what you're getting into, that seems to be one of the biggest things is people aren't being prepared," Dr. Tullberg said.

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Natasha Lynn

Natasha is a reporter for Good Morning Colorado during the week and on weekends.

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