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Winter Sports Injury Rehab: How Exercise Can Help

Winter Sports Injury Rehab: How Exercise Can Help

Staying active during the winter is probably on your to-do list. However, a new or previous winter sports injury can hinder your enjoyment and leave you sidelined. Today, our Orleans physiotherapists discuss rehabilitation and physiotherapy options to treat and prevent these injuries. 

Winter Sports Injuries

Skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes to welcome the arrival of mid-winter temperatures, while others spend a Saturday morning digging out their sleds and heading to their local hill, or hitting the rink for a few laps on their skates. 

Whatever your preference, remember that slips, trips, wipeouts and falls will have many suffering from bruises and strains, or perhaps even needing to visit the hospital. 

Specifically, engaging in winter sports increases the risk of certain injuries, including:

  • Concussions and various head injuries
  • Knee strains and meniscus injuries
  • Anterior and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL/PCL) Injuries
  • Shoulder dislocations and/or rotator cuff injuries

Many people end up with dislocated shoulders due to falling on ice or hard snow. Shoulders are very mobile joints, which means they can slip out of placement where other joints may not. A dislocated shoulder may also lead to related injuries to the ligaments and muscles in the upper body. 

Depending on the circumstances and severity of an injury, these individuals may require months of rehabilitation and recovery to restore the strength in their muscles, along with their balance, mobility and confidence. Fortunately, sports injury rehab and physiotherapy can help these efforts.

Hockey players and skiers have the highest risk of dislocating their shoulders. While painful in and of itself, this injury may also lead to frozen shoulder. In addition, people's reflexes often have them trying to break their fall with their arms and inadvertently dislocating an elbow. 

Post-Treatment Rehabilitation for Athletic Injuries

Once you've seen a doctor to have your shoulder restored to its normal position, you'll need to strengthen it with the goal of restoring full movement and mobility.

At our physiotherapy center in Nepean, our physiotherapists can develop a treatment plan to prevent, manage and treat acute and chronic sports injuries in athletes at all levels, from weekend warriors to World Class and Olympic athletes. 

Specifically, we can address acute and chronic sports injuries by:

  • Controlling pain and swelling due to acute injuries 
  • Providing sport-specific exercise treatment programs designed to help you regain mobility and strength 
  • Analyzing risk factors and treating chronic conditions 

Treatment techniques may include:

  • Active exercises to restore flexibility, strength, balance and endurance 
  • Manual therapy for joint restrictions or stiffness 
  • Stabilization with tape or braces 
  • Over-the-counter braces for various conditions or injuries such as carpal tunnel, ankle sprains and patella-femoral pain 
  • Myofascial release techniques for short, tight muscles and soft tissue 
  • Acupuncture treatment to manage pain and swelling 

How to Prevent Winter Sports Injuries

Preventive physiotherapy can help athletes at all levels - and even those who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle - stay on track and prevent injuries in the first place. Pre and post-season physiotherapy assessments involve taking a comprehensive look at muscle balance to ensure your body working at its best. 

Here are some specific tips you might consider adding to your prevention routine:

Warm Up

Doing some warmup exercises before you hit the rink, hill or slopes is essential to preventing winter sports injuries. Long-term, winter athletes should see our physiotherapists for an injury risk assessment as part of pre-season preparation. 

A warmup routine should include:

  • Twisting your upper body 
  • Stretching your arms, back and legs
  • Circling your arms 
  • Exercises to energize leg muscles, such as on-the-spot running or squats 
  • Wrist and ankle rotations '

Remember to do these exercises once you've got your gear on, then again once you're about to head out onto the slopes or rink, since your muscles will cool down while you wait in line in the arena for the ski lift. 

Have the Right Gear

Make sure you've got the right sports and safety gear specific to your chosen activity, and wear thin, insulating layers underneath your coat. 

Wear a Properly Sized Helmet 

Brain injuries can happen in a second and dramatically impact your life, resulting in permanent disability - some can even be life-threatening. No matter your age or athletic ability, it's important for everyone (and every member of your family) to be fitted for a helmet and to wear it each time you engage in your chosen activity. 

Learn to Fall 

Whether we're on the hills, slopes or a backyard rink, falls are inevitable. But how we fall can mean the difference between enduring a winter sports injury such as a sprained muscle or fractured bone and being able to exercise again in the next few days. If you're unable to prevent a fall, our advice is to not fight it and instead try to land on your bottom or on your side and roll.  

Are you wondering how physical therapy can help prevent winter sports injuries? We can develop a plan to help you stay safe and physically active. Request a consultation today.

We are accepting in-person and virtual appointments.

(613) 714-9722