Just because it’s cold outside (and depending on what state you call home, buried under 10 inches of snow), that doesn’t means youth sports has to stop! There are plenty of winter sports, both indoor and outdoor, for your son/daughter to play this season if they want to stay active. And if they are on a highly competitive team their coach might be running mandatory winter conditioning camps. But getting and staying active when it’s cold outside means following a few winter sports safety rules and tips.
1. Hydration is just as important as it is in the summer!
When it’s a 100 degrees outside it’s easy to remember to stay hydrated and stick to the shade when you can. Being seriously dehydrated on a hot day can result in heat illnesses or even heat stroke. But many athletes (and parents) forget that dehydration is still a major concern for athletes even when it’s cold! In an attempt to maintain core temperature, our bodies pump less blood to the arms and legs in order to reduce the amount of body heat lost to the cold air. That’s why your fingers and toes never seem to get warm! By decreasing the amount of blood in your extremities, more warm blood stays in your core and your overall body temperature is safe guarded. However, this eventually leads to the kidneys producing more urine, which over time leads to dehydration. Our bodies are more prone to dehydration when it’s cold because breathing he cold, dry winter air results in fluid loss through evaporation. When you exhale and see your breath you’re using moisture to heat up the air around you!
2. Frostbite is a major concern.
Because your body is pulling blood and heat from your extremities to keep your core warm, your fingers and toes are susceptible to frostbite! Frostbite is essentially when the tissues in your fingers, toes and nose freezes. If not treated quickly you can actually lose those extremities permanently. If you’re going to be out in the cold and wet snow for a long time (we’re looking at you skiers and snowboarders) be sure you are wearing thick, waterproof gloves, have your face covered, and are wearing extra thick and warm socks (moisture wicking preferably). It’s also worth packing extra gloves and socks so you can put on dry pairs as needed.
3. You need more layers than you think…and order matters.
If you’re going to be outside for winter sports you need at least 3 layers. The base layer should be tight fitting and made of moisture wicking material like Polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate or wool. Avoid a cotton base layer (like your basic tee shirt) because it traps moisture, which will ultimately pull heat away from the body. The mid layer’s job is to provide insulation (this is what keeps you warm!) and carry moisture away from the base layer to the outer layer. Common material for mid layers includes down, polyester, fleece, wool and synthetic/natural blends. The outermost layer needs to be waterproof and windproof because if you get too wet it doesn’t matter how many layers you have on. These shells are usually made of Gore-Tex or a similar material.