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How to Avoid the Most Common Winter Sports Injuries

December 21, 2017

Winter sports injuries.jpgWinter sports are a great way to stay in shape when “Old Man Winter” rears his ugly head. But as is typically the case, you can get hurt. The good news is there are ways to decrease your risk of suffering some of the most common winter sports injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, In 2015 more than 246,000 people were treated at hospitals, sports medicine offices, and emergency rooms for injuries related to winter sports. The list includes:

  • 88,000 injuries from snow skiing
  • 61,000 injuries from snowboarding
  • 50,000 injuries from ice skating
  • 47,000 injuries from sledding, tobogganing, and snow tubing

So let’s take a look at some of the most popular winter sports and how you can decrease your chances of getting hurt.


Of all the winter sports you can try, skiing may provide the best recipe for injury. You’re speeding down a hill, surrounded by people, and trees. Knees, arms, and your head are most susceptible to injury when skiing, so to decrease your risk do things like:

  • Test your bindings to make sure they fit properly
  • Take frequent water breaks to stay hydrated
  • Don’t push yourself and take “one last run” when you’re already tired
  • Know your limits and stick to the trails that are suited for you

You can decrease your risk even more by not doing things like:

  • Forgetting to wear goggles and a helmet. Goggles help you see on the mountain and the helmet can prevent skull fractures.
  • Skipping a warm up or stretching your cold muscles before you hit the slopes.
  • Never stand up during a fall. Skiers should "go" with the momentum of a fall to avoid knee injuries.
  • Don’t use your arms to break a fall. It could result in a rotator cuff tear or shoulder dislocation.


The same recipe that makes skiing one of the more dangerous winter sports is evident in sledding, too. You’re on a hill, traveling at a high rate of speed. Did I mention that it’s tough to steer a sled?

Some of the most common sledding injuries are caused by collisions. Concussions top the list, so you should consider wearing a helmet on the sledding hill. People collide with lots of things while on a sled like trees, rocks, and other people.

Make sure your path is clear and your helmet is on before taking off down the hill.


Hockey is one of the few winter sports that allows you to wear protective equipment all over your body, but it still has it’s fair share of injuries. They include:

  • Concussions
  • Separated Shoulder
  • Knee Injuries
  • Groin/Hamstring Pull
  • Ankle Injuries

To decrease your risk of getting hurt try doing things like:

  • Not leading with your head if you are about to collide with another player.
  • Keeping your feet wide, head up, and stick down during a check can help protect your shoulders.
  • Wearing a mask to protect yourself from cuts.
  • Stretching before and after a game or practice can help decrease the risk of muscle pulls.

Ice Skating

Ice Skating is a winter sport that almost anyone can do, but you still should take some precautions to avoid getting hurt.

Common ice skating injuries include:

  • Ankle Sprains
  • Wrist Injuries
  • Head Injuries

To protect your ankles, make sure your skates fit properly.

Avoid putting your hand out when you’re beginning to fall. This will protect your wrists and hands. Be sure to “tuck and roll” instead.

And if you’re not a strong skater, wearing a helmet will protect your head, just in case you hit it on the ice.

So if you’re hoping to stay active all winter long, get out there and play. You can also find tips for staying active in our guide “6 Steps to Getting Fit and Active.”

Physical Activity Guidelines