January 30, 2006
The 2006 Winter Olympics
will begin this week in Torino, Italy.
"Winter Olympic Sports:
Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Cross-country Skiing, Curling,
Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ice Hockey, Luge, Nordic Combined,
Short Track, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Snowboard, [and] Speed Skating"
For those who are interested
in watching, this offers an opportunity for hours of entertainment.
However, for many, the Olympics tend to bring out more than just
the spectator within. There will be spectators and aspiring athletes
all over the world who will be inspired to do more than just watch.
For those interested in trying new things, or advancing to a new
level in a sport with which they already have some experience, there
is much to learn...
Discover all about the sports on the programme of the Olympic Winter
Games, with detailed explanations of each event, the equipment required
and the techniques used."
Before heading out to participate
in any winter sport, it is important to remember that it is winter.
"One of the most important
ways to be safe during winter sports doesn't even have to do with
the activities themselves - it has to do with keeping warm! When
you're preparing to go sledding, skating, skiing, or snowboarding,
you've got to put on the right clothes and accessories before you
even think about grabbing your equipment. Keeping warm means you'll
have a better - and safer - time while you're outdoors. That's because
keeping your body at the right temperature means you won't need
to spend as much energy getting warm - so you can spend more energy
enjoying your sport. Also, if you're dressed properly, it means
you can stay outside longer without worrying about frostbite."
While some safety tips
are unique to one sport, others (along with common sense) can be
applied to many. The following sports each have their own guidelines,
but some of the safety and conditioning tips can be applied to other
winter sports (or even sports associated with other seasons).
"Here are some tips
from members of the U.S. Snowboard Team, as well as from recreational
* Get in shape first. A regular general fitness program
will make snowboarding easier and help protect you from injury.
* Use the right equipment. Buy or rent good snowboarding
boots, an all-purpose snowboard, a helmet and wrist guards.
* Pick the right time and place to learn. Take
lessons from a trained instructor in good weather (when there
is good visibility and it's not too cold). Pick a skiing area that
allows snowboarders. Use slopes that are not crowded and have packed
snow. Avoid icy slopes."
For those more interested
in going down the slope on skis:
"Want to avoid fatigue,
muscle pain and possible injury when downhill skiing this season?
Start training with floor exercises to target the muscles that keep
your body in control as you ski. In addition to these exercises,
you can benefit from other strength training exercises. Leg presses
will help you strengthen your leg muscles, and triceps extension
exercises will help you strengthen your upper arms and the muscles
you use for poling. You'll enjoy the rewards that training for downhill
skiing will bring. You'll feel more confident and maintain greater
control as you swoosh through the snow."
For those looking for a
little fun, but not necessarily an organized sport:
"If sledding is your
sport, choose your hill carefully. Avoid areas that are too steep
or have obstructions like rocks or trees. The best sleds are those
that you can steer; the safest way to ride is sitting up (there's
less risk of head injury this way). For ice skaters, man-made rinks
are the best choice because the surface is smooth and there's no
danger of falling into frigid waters. If you do want to skate on
a pond or a lake, be sure the ice is at least 4 to 6 inches thick
with no holes or soft spots."
Additional tips for ice
skaters (or those going out on the
ice for any reason):
" * Skates should fit comfortably
and provide ankle support.
* Only skate in designated skating areas where the
ice is known to be strong.
* Always check for cracks, holes, and debris on the
* Never skate alone."
For those interested in
adding hockey to their ice skating:
"Mandatory use of
standardized helmets has apparently reduced the incidence of skull
fractures and intracranial hematoma. Despite helmet protection,
concussions occur with alarming frequency. ... Physicians and athletic
trainers should always rule out an associated neck injury when evaluating
a player with a suspected concussion. ... Facemasks have dramatically
reduced the risk of eye injuries, including periorbital lacerations.
Eye trauma from a stick, puck or elbow to players wearing partial
or no protection can cause hyphema, orbit fracture, retinal detachment,
or globe rupture. A blinding eye injury to a hockey player wearing
full facial protection has never been reported. ..."
Hockey is notoriously a
dangerous sport, and added protection has help prevent numerous
injuries. That said, any sport has risks -- and safety precautions
are not safety guarantees.
"The risk of spinal
cord injury, including quadriplegia, may be increasing and appears
to be higher in hockey than football. Helmets and facemasks have
been implicated in this apparent increased incidence of neck injuries
because players feel invincible and officials are more lenient in
calling penalties. No scientific research to date supports these
contentions. However, a false sense of security may lead to violent
attitudes and tactics. Prevention of catastrophic injuries involves
the cooperation of players, coaches, and officials."
Questions of the Week:
What winter sports (or outdoor winter activities) interest you?
Your friends? Your peers? Your family? What precautions should you
(or those you know) take in order to enjoy these sports and/ or
activities safely? Do you think that different people need to take
into consideration different safety issues? (Why might some think
that this be the case? Why might others disagree?) What would be
a safe environment in which to learn or practice the sports or activities
that interest you and those you know?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum