Vail Daily column: Getting geared up for winter sports |

Vail Daily column: Getting geared up for winter sports

Greg Schlossinger
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

Vail-Summit Orthopaedics was proud to recently host the 5th annual Fall Colorado Athletic Trainers’ Association Conference in Edwards. More than 100 certified athletic trainers and physical therapists from around the state participated in this one day sports medicine event to learn the latest advances in sports medicine. Physicians with Vail-Summit Orthopaedics and other medical providers gave talks on a range of topics dealing with the treatment of common sports-related injuries.

Living in the middle of one of the most active sports populations in the United States, we consider ourselves experts in the field of sports medicine and are proud to share the knowledge we have on how to help patients get back on their feet when an injury keeps them from doing what they love.

Here is some information to keep in mind as we gear up for this year’s season:

Whether you like to ski, sled, snowboard or play hockey, winter sports injuries are common. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2008:

• Snowboarding was the leading cause of winter sports injuries, sending 150,065 people to hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, clinics and other medical settings.

•-Skiing came in second with 148,555 injuries.

• Other sports and activities on the list include ice hockey with 54,160, ice skating with 49,469 injuries, sledding and tobogganing with 61,095 and snowmobiling with 34,201.

There are many precautions you can take to minimize your risk of injury. Vail-Summit Orthopaedics and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommend the following tips:

• Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more susceptible to injury. To avoid this, do some light exercises for at least 3 to 5 minutes, then slowly and gently stretch the muscles to be exercised, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.

• If you are avidly training in a formal sport, such as professional figure skating, ensure that the activity is led by a trained coach.

•-Take frequent water breaks to prevent dehydration and overheating.

• Avoid participating in sports when experiencing pain or exhaustion.

• Never ski, sled, ice skate, snowmobile or snowboard alone.

• Know and abide by all rules of the sport in which you are participating.

• Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding, and make sure equipment is in good working order and used properly.

• For warmth and protection, wear several layers of light, loose and water- and wind-resistant clothing. Layering allows you add and remove clothing to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature when outside or in a cold environment such as an indoor ice rink.

•-Wear proper footwear that provides warmth and dryness, as well as ample ankle support.

•-When falling, try to fall on your side or buttocks. Roll over naturally, turning your head in the direction of the roll.

•-Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature to ensure safety.

• Become familiar with the whereabouts of fences, trees, rocks, open water and patches of ice. Stay on marked trails and avoid potential avalanche areas, such as steep hillsides with little vegetation.

• Be prepared for emergency situations and have a plan to reach medical personnel to treat injuries.

Greg Schlossinger is an athletic trainer with Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. VSO has offices in Vail, Edwards and Frisco. For more information, visit the VSO website at

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