Dr. Michael Aron, an orthopedic surgeon at the Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group, talks about how to prevent injuries while enjoying winter sports.
Below are some questions with answers provided by Aron. For more information, visit www.CTORTHO.com.
Can you tell us a little about what you do and what people should know before the winter weather starts?
- I have been an orthopedic surgeon for 20 years, practicing with the Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group.
- I specialize in hand and upper extremity injuries.
- It’s important to point out a many winter accidents can easily be prevented.
- Many of these injuries happen at the end of the day, when people are tired or overexert themselves to finish that one last run before the day’s end.
- Some other injuries such as muscle strains and tears can be prevented by taking a little extra time for the warm up prior to either indoor or outdoor sports.
What types of injuries do you see during the winter months?
- Orthopedic injuries are common.
- Soft tissue sprains and contusions, as well as the more serious injuries such as broken or sprained wrists and torn ligaments – especially in the wrist and hand are very prevalent at this time of the year.
- We see a lot of injuries from snow boarding.
Are sports the only cause of injury?
- No. In the winter, we see many patients in our practice who injure themselves shoveling snow, getting ice off their roofs, slipping and falling on a slick driveway and the worst is from snowblowers.
- If you are not used to doing heavy repetitive work with you should take your time and not overdo it.
- Pain is your body’s way of protecting ourselves and if you are feeling shoulder pain while shoveling snow or using a roof rake, take a break and give your body a chance to rest.
- If you are using a snowblower and it gets jammed – don’t put your hand in it – even if it is turned off!
Not everyone likes to be outside in the cold weather. What tips do you have for indoor athletes?
- It’s key that people prepare for their sport by keeping in good physical condition.
- Stay alert.
- Stop when they are tired or in pain.
- It’s also important to warm up thoroughly before playing.
- Cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are vulnerable to injury because they are tight and tear more easily.
- That is why we see so many injuries during the winter in our weekend warriors.
- Basketball players are more likely to tear a muscle or tendon in the winter when their muscles are tight and stiff as many of us don’t take the time to warm up before the game which can be especially dangerous during the cold weather.
- We see a lot of muscle tears during the indoor season probably because we don’t warm up enough on those cold winter days.
Is there anything different that parents should know about kids playing winter sports?
- When kids transition from outdoor to indoor sports they need to be aware of the change in playing field from grass outside to artificial turf, concrete or wood.
- They can learn about safety tips, such as the correct way to fall while skiing and wearing protective equipment.
- Even though kids may feel warm or sweaty when exercising outdoors, they need to keep hats, gloves and coats on.
Just to remind everyone, what precautions should everyone take this season?
- Keep in shape and condition muscles before participating in winter activities.
- Make sure you take adequate time to warm up and stretch.
- Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding.
- Check that equipment is working properly prior to use and that it still fits properly.
- Learn how to fall correctly and safely.
- Don’t overdo it – make sure to stop if you’re cold or tired.
- If you are skiing, make sure you have the correct equipment and ski within your abilities.
- Avoid participating in sports when you are in pain or exhausted.