Physiotherapy departments prepare for winter injuries

For the thousands of holidaymakers that make a trip to snowier climes, most will return refreshed and revitalised, however for some unlucky skiing fanatics, their snowy trip can turn sour when injury strikes. Recent research conducted on behalf of BMI Bishops Wood Hospital revealed that just 21 per cent of resident in London take out insurance when travelling abroad. At this time of year, with more people forecast to hit the slopes than ever before, winter sport related injuries are likely to rise. The sports injury and physiotherapy departments at BMI Healthcare are preparing itself for an influx of skiers and snowboarders needing orthopaedic and physiotherapy treatments.

Mr David Houlihan-Burne, Consultant Orthopaedic and Sports Injury Surgeon at BMI Bishops Wood Hospital offers the following advice for those people, “Pro skiers and snowboarders can make their sports look effortless on the telly, so it’s easy for some people to forget just how dangerous the slopes can be, especially for beginners.

“We would advise everybody embarking on snow sports this season to take all the available and necessary precautions to avoid injury. However, should you get injured, get expert medical attention as quickly as possible, seek a second opinion if needed and do not stray from your doctors or physiotherapists recommended treatment regime. Ignoring medical advice will only increase your pain, suffering and recovery time.”

Mr Houlihan-Burne and the team at BMI Bishops Wood Hospital share tips on how to avoid injury on the slopes:

  • No matter how confident you may feel, beginners should always take skiing or snowboarding lessons from a professional before they attempt to ski or snowboard. If you plan to snowboard, it’s crucial that you learn how to fall correctly to prevent any injury. You should never put your arms out to catch yourself as the impact and pressure on fingers and wrists can break the bone. Whether falling forwards or backwards always ensure you bring your arms in close to your chest and fall onto your chest, back or shoulder.
  • You should always use equipment that matches your size and skill level.
  • Both adults and children should wear safety gear while on the slopes. A helmet should be mandatory and also wrist guards if snow boarding. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day and do not drink alcohol while skiing or snowboarding!
  • Make sure you warm up properly before skiing or snowboarding to avoid injury.Before putting on your gear, warm up and stretch the thigh, calf and arm muscles. A short walk of 10-20 minutes will increase blood flow to the muscles, increasing their flexibility. Start each day on the slopes with some easy runs to loosen up and do this after each rest break as well.
  • P.R.I.C.E for injury - If you are unlucky enough to sustain an injury, immediately follow the P.R.I.C.E principles:

Protection - use strapping or a support for comfort and to protect the area

Rest - rest the injured area

Ice - apply ice packs for 10 minutes every hour

Compress - use tubigrip or a compression bandage to help reduce the swelling - but not too tight! Check toes and fingers regularly for colour and temperature; remove the compression dressing at night.

Elevate - elevate or raise the injured part, ideally above the heart to help disperse swelling.

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Physiotherapy departments prepare for winter injuries
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