A change in seasons often brings a change in activities. Colder temperatures, snow, and rain might make hiking and outdoor running a little miserable. Whether you’re the type to power through cold weather or someone who transitions their sports and activities when the weather turns, watch out for winter injuries. Winter weather and sports come with a different set of potential dangers—instead of worrying about heatstroke, you’ve got to watch out for frostbite.
Winter might bring different conditions and challenges, but avoiding injury requires many of the same summer safety principles. For example, check the weather. A day on snowmobiles may sound fun, but if a storm’s blowing in before dark, you might want to wait for another day.
To avoid injury, you’ve got to apply safety principles to colder weather and different equipment. These principles and tips may seem small, but they can mean the difference between an active winter and one spent on crutches.
How to Prevent Winter Injuries
Regular exercise does more than keep your heart, lungs, and muscles strong. The body’s small, supportive muscle groups and tissues become weak with a lack of activity. If you then try to ice skate after spending weeks on the couch, you may lack strength, stamina, or balance and are, therefore, more prone to injury. Regular exercise makes it easier to transition into your winter sports because your body is better prepared.
Learn more from VitalFit experts, Cosi and Greg, on how to stay active along with some tips and tactics for seasonal activities.
Even if you’ve been working out regularly, start new winter sports and activities slowly. Take a few easy runs before you hit your favorite double black diamond, and try your hand on easy snowshoe routes before you take on long, steep terrain.
Some people find it difficult to pace themselves when jumping into a new sport. However, working your way into longer, harder sessions and trips will keep you from hurting yourself and, in the long run, missing out on the fun.
Take Care of Your Skin
Cold weather causes the humidity in the air to drop, which can dry out your skin. Dry skin more easily cracks and tears, which makes taking care of your skin an important part of staying active.
Apply a moisturizer like VitalFit Day Moisturizer formulated to prevent odor and harmful microbes while nourishing the skin. Proper moisturization is particularly important for those with health conditions like diabetes or limb loss. These conditions can make the skin more prone to injury or infection when it gets dried and cracked.
VitalFit's Liquid-to-Powder Plus can also help prevent wintertime chafing. It applies like a lotion and dries to a powdered friction barrier. Apply it to the arms, in the armpits, groin, and anywhere else where you regularly chafe.
Check Your Equipment
You don’t want to get stranded somewhere in the cold because of damaged or broken equipment. If you’re a winter runner, check the tread on your shoes. Ice skates, boots, skis, poles—all of them can break. Inspect the bindings, joints, and laces every time you use them. Rented equipment usually goes through an inspection after each use, but still, look it over before leaving the shop in case someone missed something.
Winter conditions can quickly change, so it’s best to be prepared. Layers of moisture-wicking clothing made of wool or polar fleece give you options as the conditions change. You can take layers off as you work up a sweat and put them back on when you start to cool down. Don’t forget gloves and a hat.
If you have circulation problems, like those associated with diabetes, be careful when doubling up on socks. Too much pressure in your boots can interfere with circulation, so make sure you can wiggle your toes.
Take a Buddy
Injury or hypothermia can happen even if you’re prepared. For safety, take a buddy with you. If you’re only going on a jog around the neighborhood, take a mobile phone and let someone know your route. A nasty fall could make it hard to get back home before you start to lose body heat.
Keep an eye on the weather, wear the right clothes, and take along your favorite winter-adventuring buddy. No matter what sport or activity you take on, keep up with your regular exercise routine and ease your way into your sport. Crisp mountain air is hard to resist, but cold, slippery conditions make injuries all too common. Smart preparation will make sure you can stay active (and injury free) for the whole season.