Rosemont, IL – For many thrill seekers, extreme sports can be a fun way to get an adrenaline rush during these long winter months. Televised events such as the Winter X-Games have led to an increased participation in downhill ski racing and jumping, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snow biking, and ice climbing. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) stresses caution before participation in these types of extreme winter sports.
As extreme sports often involve risky stunts, such as trick jumps and flips at high speeds, there can be a high chance of injury for participants.
“It’s important to remember that practice makes perfect, but more importantly, that even professionals aren’t perfect and they practice their craft constantly,” explained orthopaedic surgeon Martin Boublik, MD. “Beginners watch professional athletes artfully land incredible stunts, but as spectators they are spared the harsh reality of a bad fall or injury. I cannot stress the importance of athletes at all levels starting slow, respecting their sport, being mentally and physically prepared, and taking advantage of all safety precautions when participating in extreme sports.”
While it is difficult to track injuries due to extreme sports specifically:
- In 2009, snowboarding sent 139,881 people to hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, clinics and other medical settings according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.
- In the same year, there were 139,660 skiing injuries.
As part of the ongoing Prevent Injuries America! campaign, The Academy offers the following safety tips:
- Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more susceptible to injury. Do some light exercise for at least 3 to 5 minutes, then slowly and gently stretch the muscles, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
- Do not try to imitate stunts seen in televised events. The people in those events—even the X-Games, which appear to be less formal than events like the Olympics—are professional athletes with years of training. If you have children who watch these events, make sure that they understand this.
- Never participate in extreme sports alone. Many extreme sports enthusiasts have a coach or responsible party overseeing any activity. Have a partner who can assist you and a communication device to call for help if you get injured and be aware of changing snow conditions and hazards.
- 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.
- Take frequent water breaks to prevent dehydration and overheating. Don’t drink alcohol as it can increase your chances of hypothermia.
- Avoid participating in any sport when experiencing pain or exhaustion.
- Wear proper footwear that provides warmth and dryness, as well as ample ankle support.
- When falling, try to tuck and roll so you land 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.