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Sochi Olympics 2014: Surgeon calls for better winter sport injury protection

By jspiteri  |  Posted: February 11, 2014


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With the recent success of Jenny Jones in the snowboarding in Sochi, Russia winning a bronze medal for Team GB and the Channel 4 show ‘The Jump’, where celebrities have been taking part in intense winter sports, healthcare professionals are predicting people across the South West will be inspired to take up a winter sport. Alongside beginners, they are also concerned about those who’ve been absent from the slopes for a while and dust off their skis or snowboards before heading to the snow resorts. Many people will have done little or no preparation; putting themselves and others at potential risk of injury.

According to a new survey by BMI Healthcare, seven out of ten orthopaedic surgeons and physiotherapists say they see an increase in sports injuries during the winter months.

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Ian Barlow who practices at BMI The Winterbourne Hospital said: “During the winter there is certainly a rise in the number of patients presenting with sports related injuries here at BMI The Winterbourne Hospital. The vast majority of winter sports injuries involve fractures and ligament injuries around the knee. Other winter sports injuries: the result of bodies making contact with hard winter surfaces, like ice or hard-packed snow, involve the shoulder, wrist and hand.”

He added: “TV shows and international sporting tournaments especially, can influence and inspire us. I have no doubt that amateur sportsmen and women will venture to the slopes and the ice rinks this winter having been inspired or motivated by the heroes of the snow and ice. However if people have been in-active or they haven’t prepared their muscles or stepped up fitness levels they could well be at risk. Professional athletes take the necessary precautions to stay fit and healthy. However not all amateur sports enthusiasts do the right medical checks before they start. All too often people don’t consider the serious consequences that can occur with poor preparation. Correct equipment including helmets and properly adjusted ski bindings will help to prevent serious injuries, in addition to adequate physical preparation and fitness.”

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Of those orthopaedic surgeons and physiotherapists who took part in the survey, 87% said they believed those who take part in winter sports of some kind, do not prepare their bodies enough and therefore run the risk of developing an injury.

BMI Healthcare has launched BMI Active For Life, a campaign to encourage people to look after their bones and joints, enabling them to stay active throughout their lives.

A series of orthopaedic videos have been made with orthopaedic surgeons who explain the vulnerability of each part of the skeletal system during winter sports, giving people the insight to remain active on the ski slopes or the ice rink.

Spine Injury Awareness

Shoulder Injury Awareness

Elbow Injury Awareness

Hand & Wrist Injury Awareness

Hip Injury Awareness

Knee Injury Awareness

Foot & Ankle Awareness

Physiotherapy Guidance

BMI The Winterbourne Hospital has a full range of orthopaedic specialists that can treat the above areas.

Of the winter sports injuries that are treated it is no surprise that skiing proved to be the most common with 98% of those surveyed saying they have treated a patient for a skiing related injury.

The survey showed snow-boarding was an injury prone winter sport with 86% of those surveyed treating someone injured, putting the sport second in the survey. Football came in third with 55%.

Other sports causing most injuries were ranked:

• Running (50%)

• Rugby (39%)

• Ice Skating (25%)

• Cycling (18%)

• Ice Hockey (18%)

• Triathlon (14%)

• Horse Riding (11%)

Should people end up with an injury, sports injury experts are urging people not to be put off but to be a little more measured in their approach to the sport they are taking up. Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Barlow is actively encouraging people who have recently taken up a new winter sport or exercise, or are planning on doing so, to be injury aware.

“For those people inspired to take up a sport because of the events in Russia or other influences, it is recommended that if in doubt they consult their GP, who can offer medical guidance about their suitability to the chosen sport.”

Sarah Pearce, Physiotherapist at BMI The Winterbourne Hospital also advises “Build up fitness levels over an appropriate period of time rather than rushing into anything.”

She added: “Reasonable fitness levels are vital for any intensive activity. Being at a good fitness level before you begin any winter sport is important and I would recommend working on fitness for anyone about to take up something like skiing or snowboarding.

”For those who are real novices or those who have been inactive for a time, they need to be very careful and more self-aware. We can actively encourage people to stay fit and healthy, but it is also important that those taking up a new sport understand that injuries can occur. It is vital when starting out to take necessary precautions which includes taking the advice of experts – either their doctor or from those who work in the sport they intend to perform.”

Sarah recommends some injury preventative measures including:

• Correct technique and equipment

• Warming Up and cooling down

• Stretching

• Rest between training sessions

• Staggered training schedule

• Hydration and Good nutrition or diet

• Safety equipment

If you are concerned about any aspect of your health over the winter sporting season speak to your GP.

For more information about winter sports injuries please visit: www.bmihealthcare.co.uk/wintersportsinjuries and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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