How To Prevent Winter Sports Injuries

winter sports injuries

Now that we are in the winter season with the winter sports in full swing, people are asking how to prevent winter sports injuries. 

Here in Sydney, sports such as soccer, rugby, AFL and netball are most popular.

With the cold and wet weather we’ve been having, the conditions are not great, and these two factors can increase one’s risk of injury on the field (or court).

Injuries can occur during contact when forces through a joint cause straining of tissues such as ligaments and tendons and sometimes injuries to cartilage and bone.

Ankle, knee, shoulder and arm injuries are all quite common and occasionally spinal injuries from contact sports.

Additionally, it’s also that time of year people are planning their snow sports holidays – off the New Zealand and the Snowy Mountains. 

There are two types of winter sports injuries:

Two Types of Winter Sports Injuries:

1. Acute traumatic injuries

These are caused by a sudden force or impact such as a collision or a fall. These injuries include fractures, dislocations, muscle tears (strains) and  ligament tears (sprains).

winter sports injuries

2. Chronic injuries

These occur over time due to repetitive action, over training or poor technique. Examples include stress fractures, tendinopathy and bursitis

winter sports injuries

Injury prevention

Warm up

One of the easiest ways to prevent winter sports injuries is to warm up correctly. This is especially important in winter as cold tendons, muscles and ligaments lose their elasticity and are more prone to injury.

It is essential to warm up before a game or training to increase blood flow to the muscles, increase body temperature and prepare the body and mind for the sport.

Warm ups should start at a low level and gradually increase in intensity to the level needed in the game.

Longer warm ups are required in colder weather. Warm ups should include sport specific drills e.g. dribbling and passing in soccer.

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Building up your fitness before the season starts is ideal by running and other impact based exercise needed for the sport. Those who fatigue faster are more likely to get injured.

The body should be able to manage the loads of accelerating, decelerating, landing and changing direction if muscle memory, strength and mobility are optimal. There is a risk of injury if your muscles are not activating correctly.

Stretching, strength and conditioning specific to your position on the field are all important.

Good tackling technique is essential to reduce injury to yourself and others in contact sports and should have a big focus in pre-season training. This includes conditioning the body to contact and learning how to brace your body for a collision.


After training and after games is a great time to stretch.

This helps to maintain adequate flexibility needed to prevent injury. It also helps the body recover from the exercise and decreases delayed-onset muscles soreness (DOMS).

One should not start with stretching as the body needs to be warmed up first.

Stretches should be held for at least 30-60 seconds, with a few repetitions and include all muscles.

For example, when doing leg stretches, one could start with the calf muscle stretches, then moving up to hamstrings, adductor, quadriceps, ITB and gluteal muscles.


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Good leg strength is essential for all snow sports as well as overall general strength. Quadriceps, hamstring and gluteal muscles should be included in the strengthening program. Ligaments and muscles around the knees, shoulders, wrists and spine are the most commonly injured from falls while skiing or snowboarding

Ask your physiotherapist for a specific ski or snowboard training program. If possible, complete a 6 to12 week specific neuromuscular conditioning program. Incorporate drills that improve foot speed and coordination to improve reaction time.

Use appropriately fitted gear, including helmets, goggles, gloves and boots. Have some rest periods to avoid fatigue-related injuries. Warm up thoroughly and spend longer warming up in colder temperatures. Remember cold muscles, ligaments and bones are more vulnerable to injury. Take lessons from a qualified instructor and stay within your skill level. Also, stay hydrated and enjoy the season!

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