Health Watch: Winter sport injuries

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) I'm Justin Feeser Monument Health rehabilitation and sports medicine manager in the Northern Hills. Winter sports in the Black Hills are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. These activities, however, can be strenuousness and lead to injuries if you aren't prepared for there demands. As a physical therapist I see and treat a variety of injuries each winter and many of these are directly related to skiing or snowboarding. It is estimated that in 2018 there were over 200,000 winter sports-related injuries treated in the United States with almost 129 of these directly attribute to skiing or snowboarding. These injuries can be very diverse and can include arm, leg, head, and spinal trauma and can range from a simple easily treatable soft tissue contusion or sprain up to bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. While many injuries can be treated conservatively, depending on the severity major injuries often require surgical intervention or intensive medical treatment and significant time away from your chosen activities. Proper preparation to minimize your risk of injury is very important this can include improving your overall strength, flexibility, and balance, as well as stretching and performing dynamic warm-ups prior to the activity. It is important to ski or snowboard in control and have an awareness of your surroundings particularity for others around you and their path. In addition, it is important to understand movements associated with these activities with appropriate mechanics including weight shifting and learning to turn, land, or stop and in my case fall. Common sense also dictates using equipment including a helmet, having this equipment set up by a knowledgeable professional and keeping the equipment in proper working order. Finally, know your limitations and when to call it a day, have a safe and warm winter sports season