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Three children holding on to each while skiing down a snow covered mountain

Common Winter Sports Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Make sure your next ride is in a sled, not in an ambulance going to the ER

Snowflakes aren’t the only thing that will fall this winter. Unfortunately, many people will take spills out in the snow while having winter fun. In 2015, more than 245,000 people were sent to the doctor while participating in winter sports. Use our winter sports safety tips below and avoid becoming a statistic this season.

Parent helping their child learn how to ski on a snow covered mountain


Skiing is one of the most common winter sports, and that probably explains why it had the most injuries of any in 2015. As you might expect, the high speeds of skiing can lead to a variety of injuries.

Among the most common are knee injuries, typically sprains and tears. How do you avoid injury? Don’t use the lift. OK, so maybe that suggestion is a bit much, but most injuries do occur in lift areas. So, when you are near the lift, be careful! An injury might be hiding right around the corner.

Child sitting on the snow covered grown with a snowboard attached to their boots


Unsurprisingly, snowboarding shares some common injuries with skiing. Like skiing, knee injuries and concussions are common.

Snowboarders also experience injuries to their wrists and shoulders. These injuries are often caused by snowboarders falling and catching themselves with their hands, which isn’t as common with skiers who are using poles.

For a quick and safe fix, consider wrist braces and a helmet. And yes, this doesn’t exactly match the extreme sports lifestyle, but when you take a fall you’ll be happy you had them on. It is simply natural to put your hands out, so make sure you have protection in place.

Woman helping her child as they fall while iceskating with man skating behind them

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a quintessential winter sport; we even see it show up in A Charlie Brown Christmas. What we didn’t know is that Snoopy had a high risk for several injuries when he went careening off into the snow.

As with snowboarding, skaters have a significant risk for wrist fractures from falls. Skaters also have a chance of head injuries and concussions caused by slipping on the ice. Unique to skaters is a risk of retrocalcaneal bursitis — pain in the heel where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone. This is caused by overuse and repetition, which can be mitigated by warmups and choosing skates of the correct size.

Three children on sled riding down snow covered hill


Toboggans, tubes and sleds: All of these help kids create special winter memories. But they can also lead to bruises, broken bones, and head and neck injuries. To sidestep this danger, have your kids wear a helmet and buy sleds that are easy to steer. It’s also important that they go feet first and only have one person per sled. And yes, all these rules apply to you too!

Winter Sports Safety Tips

Clearly, there are many ways that you can get injured when you are out enjoying the cold. But you don’t have to head out unprepared; use the following tips to protect yourself and your children:

  • Don’t go it alone — always have at least one other person out with you.
  • Warm up before you go. Cold muscles lead to injury.
  • Wear the appropriate protective gear.
  • Take lessons if you are new to a sport — especially skiing and snowboarding.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Wear plastic boots for skiing. Evidence suggests that leather boots lead to a higher chance of injury.
  • Know your skill level. Don’t hit a black diamond trail when you belong on a blue square.

If you already have a winter injury, contact our doctors at OhioHealth and get the help you need.