If your son or daughter is a winter athlete than you know firsthand how different it is to play sports in the winter compared to the summer. Being a winter athlete means dealing with a whole different set of circumstances so you need to follow a different set of rules to stay safe!
Learn to fall.
If you are a skier, snowboarder or skater, taking a tumble is simply part of the sport. And while the best athletes can self-correct to keep themselves from falling, they also know that the body can only bend so far and landing too hard on the wrong spot means something is going to break. They are experts at falling! If a skier tries too hard to stay upright, for instance, the knee bears the brunt of the body’s weight, gravity and speed and the ACL could tear in an instant. Even a short fall can result in a broken wrist, a dislocated shoulder or a sprained ankle if athletes don’t know how to fall and protect themselves as they do it.
Dress for the cold.
Even though its cold and you don’t feel as hot, your body is working and you will start sweating! Damp clothes can lower your body temperature and result in the chills or even hypothermia or frostbite, so dress in layers you can easily take on and off. Wear thermal underwear (not cotton!) that is moisture-wicking, a second insulating layer like a fleece or wool jacket, water and windproof pants and an outer waterproof jacket, gloves and hat. Your extremities (fingers, toes, nose and ears) are the first to go when it’s cold so if you are going to be outside for a long time make sure you’ve got good and waterproof gear to keep your warm and safe! Fun fact, mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep your fingers together, but make sure they are made of down or synthetic fiber covered in a water repellent shell.
Warm up and cool down inside.
It’ll be a lot easier to stay moving outside if you’re already a little warm. Do some light aerobic exercise inside to get your muscles warm and loose. Cold muscles contract and are more susceptible to strains and tears, so warming up is essential for winter athletes! And once you stop moving your core temperature is going to drop pretty quickly, so after a brief cool-down outside finish your stretching inside. You’ll be able to peel off your extra layers, drink plenty of fluids, and cool down safely without worrying about your fingers and toes going numb.
Learn the signs of frostbite.
Superficial frostbite has the following signs and symptoms:
- pale colored skin
- clear-colored skin blisters firm-feeling skin with soft underlying tissue which can move over bony ridges
As frostbite progresses, it affects all layers of the skin. You may experience numbness, losing all sensation of cold, pain or discomfort in the affected area. Joints or muscles may no longer work. Large blisters form 24 to 48 hours after rewarming. Afterward, the area turns black and hard as the tissue dies. If you catch frostnip or superficial frostbite soon enough you can safely re-warm the tissue and prevent any lasting damage, but if you try to “play through the pain” of frostbite you’re likely to end up losing.