The ski and snowboard season is in full swing, and with it comes an unsettling number of knee, hip, back and wrist injuries.
Both winter sports are a wonderful way to get outside and enjoy being active in the winter months, which is why it's so unfortunate that they come with potential to damage the body.
While we have one too many skiers and snowboarders on staff here at Tall Tree to ever advise skipping winter sports altogether, we do have a vested interested in keeping people safe and injury-free.
As such, we've put together a short list of tips to keep you on your feet - and on the slopes - all winter long.
1. Hone up on your technique
It doesn't matter whether you've been skiing for three days or 13 years - a lesson with a pro will only increase your chances of staying injury-free. Technique (especially when your feet are strapped onto boards) is the best way to avoid messy falls that can do serious damage to all kinds of body parts.
Don't get us wrong: falling is a part of the learning process. The great thing about a lesson is you'll learn the proper way to fall to minimize impact (and, hence, maximize your fun on the hill).
2. Fill 'er up (with anti-inflammatory foods)
It can be so tempting to reach for the pizza or poutine after a hard day of skiing, but if you plan to head out the next day you might want to skip the fatty indulgences. Fats in deep-fried and heavily processed foods create inflammation in the body.
When your joints are inflamed, you have a significantly higher chance of injuring them during activities that put strain on those sensitive areas. Try opting for a stir fry or salad, and leave the greasier eats for another time.
3. Stay hydrated
Growing dehydrated on the hill is risky. For one, dehydration can lead to lightheadedness and exhaustion, two surefire ways to increase the likelihood of making errors. And errors tend to lead to injury.
Hydration is also important for optimal functioning of the joints, ligaments and muscular system. Joints in particular require proper bodily hydration to ensure smooth movement, so allowing your body to grow dehydrated will put added strain on an already sensitive area.
Try slipping a lightweight water bottle in your backpack or coat pocket, and take sips on the chairlift between runs. Camelbacks are also a great, easy way to make sure you have access to ample drinking water while you're on the hill, working hard.
4. Leave the apres until apres
After the points made already, this one should be kind of obvious - alcohol is inflammatory in nature, dehydrates the body, and decreases awareness. If you are going to enjoy a beer while skiing or snowboarding, hold off until you're done for the day.
5. Be mindful of fatigue
Even if you've watched your hydration, eaten well and avoided a lunch time cocktail, the end of a day on the slopes can pose a bit of a threat. The cold temperatures and exhilaration of downhill sports often prevent us from recognizing how truly tired and worn out our bodies are. Remember, fatigue = errors = injuries.
Pay attention to your body as the afternoon light starts fading. Don't push for one last run, and, if necessary, take the chair lift down. There will always be another day to ski or snowboard, provided you take care of yourself today.