How to Avoid Upper Extremity Injuries
As the ski hills and outdoor ice rinks begin to open, we know we’re going to see an influx of upper extremity injuries. It happens every year, without fail, so this year we’re trying to be proactive; this year we’re sharing some tips on how to avoid the upper extremity injuries that are so common with winter sports and activities. Skaters, snowboarders and skiers share the risk of falling. Many of these result in wrist and elbow fractures, because it’s a natural tendency to try to catch yourself or extend your arm to break your fall. One injury that occurs with skiers is what we refer to as Skier’s Thumb. This injury involves the ligaments that connect the bones in your thumb and tends to occur when a ski pole handle exerts sideways pressure to the thumb during a fall. Because we see so many of these injuries each winter, here are some tips on how to avoid spills on the hills: • Avoid using the wrist straps on ski poles or keep them very loose so they can release easily. Poles with the ergonomic grips are easy to hold onto. • Use well-maintained and properly fitted equipment. If you’re not sure of the size or type of equipment you should use, ask a professional. They are trained to fit you for safety and comfort. • Get off the ice or hill before you get fatigued. Accidents tend to happen more when you’re tired. Understand your limits and listen to your body. • Start the season in good physical condition. This will help you optimize your endurance and strength and will reduce the likelihood of falls. • Stay on courses that match your ability. Don’t follow your friends to a black diamond if you’re most comfortable skiing on blue. • Take classes from a professional. They are trained to keep you safe and to teach you correct and valuable skills. • When you fall, because you likely will, try to fall uphill and avoid reaching out to stop yourself with your hands. Use your forearms, instead. Because wrist injuries are so common with boarders, we also recommend the use of wrist guards. • Wear appropriate shoes/boots. A simple slip could result in sitting out the rest of the season. If your fall results in pain, pay attention to your upper extremity injury; if you experience swelling, deformity or symptoms of shock or concussion, call us at 208-235-HAND (4263). For more information on upper extremity injuries, please contact us at (208) 235-4263 or at any of our four locations: Pocatello, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, and Soda Springs.