Hitting the slopes this winter? Even experienced skiers and snowboarders can get injured. Injuries can happen so many ways: when muscles get tired, trying a slope beyond your ability, or when you misjudge the steeps.

Most common are injuries to knees, wrists, hands and head, including:

  • MCL sprain or tear
  • ACL tear
  • Snowboarder’s ankle – a fracture of the outside Talus bone
  • Skier’s thumb – thumb overextension caused by a fall with a ski pole in hand

Here’s what to do:

1. Stay in Shape

Staying in shape helps prevent “weekend warrior” injuries on the slopes. Adding exercise to your daily routine keeps you fit, strengthens your muscles, helps reduce stress, and prevents heart disease.

2. Your Equipment Matters

Have your ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly at a ski shop. Consider wearing safety equipment such as knee braces, wrist guards, thumb stabilizers and a helmet.

3. Improve Your Technique

Take lessons from qualified instructors to improve your technique.

4. Warm Up

Start with a warm up to prepare for your day.

5. Pay Attention

Be aware of your surroundings, possible obstacles, other skiers and snowboarders and the changing snow conditions.

6. Avoid Unnecessary Risks

If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, don’t risk an accident. Ski or use wide slow turns to get down to a safer cat track.

7. Imbibe At the End of the Day

Don’t drink or use marijuana while skiing or snowboarding. Judgement gets impaired and that 50 ft drop suddenly seems like child’s play.

8. If You’re Tired, Call It a Day

Don’t ski or snowboard until you drop. Most injuries happen when your body is tired and muscles are weak. Without strength to hold your form, it’s easier to catch a nasty edge.