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Winter Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Winter Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Staying active during the winter is imperative to our mental and physical health. That said, a past or new winter sports injury can leave you on the sidelines. In this post, our Nepean physiotherapists discuss rehabilitation and physiotherapy options to treat and prevent these injuries. 

Winter Sports Injuries

Mid-winter brings skiers and snowboarders from far and wide to the slopes. Others spend their weekends digging out their sleds and heading to popular local hills, or lacing up their skates for a few laps on the rink. 

Whatever your preference, it's pertinent to keep in mind that slips, trips, falls and wipeouts will have many experiencing muscle strain and bruising, or perhaps even having to visit the hospital. 

Specifically, engaging in winter sports increases the risk of certain injuries such as:

  • Concussions and various head injuries 
  • Anterior and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL/PCL) Injuries 
  • Shoulder dislocations and/or rotator cuff injuries 
  • Knee strains and meniscus injuries 

A fall onto ice or hard snow can easily result in a dislocated shoulder. Since shoulders are very mobile joints, they can slip out of placement where other joints may not. A dislocated shoulder can also lead to related injuries to the muscles and ligaments in the upper body. 

Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, these individuals may have months of recovery ahead to restore their balance, muscle strength, mobility and confidence. Fortunately, sports injury rehab and physiotherapy can help in these endeavours. 

Skiers and ice hockey players have the highest risk of suffering from dislocated shoulders. While painful in and of itself, this injury can also lead to frozen shoulder. In addition, people often use their arms to break their fall and end up dislocating an elbow. 

Post-Treatment Rehabilitation for Athletic Injuries

Once you've seen a doctor to have your shoulder restored to its normal position, you'll need to strengthen it with the goal of restoring full movement and mobility.

At our physiotherapy center in Nepean, our physiotherapists can develop a treatment plan to prevent, manage and treat acute and chronic sports injuries in athletes at all levels, from weekend warriors to World Class and Olympic athletes. 

Specifically, we can address acute and chronic sports injuries by:

  • Controlling pain and swelling due to acute injuries 
  • Providing sport-specific exercise treatment programs designed to help you regain mobility and strength 
  • Analyzing risk factors and treating chronic conditions 

Treatment techniques may include:

  • Active exercises to restore flexibility, strength, balance and endurance 
  • Manual therapy for joint restrictions or stiffness 
  • Stabilization with tape or braces 
  • Over-the-counter braces for various conditions or injuries such as carpal tunnel, ankle sprains and patella-femoral pain 
  • Myofascial release techniques for short, tight muscles and soft tissue 
  • Acupuncture treatment to manage pain and swelling 

How to Prevent Winter Sports Injuries

Preventive physiotherapy can help athletes at all levels - and even those who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle - stay on track and prevent injuries in the first place. Pre and post-season physiotherapy assessment involve taking a comprehensive look at muscle balance to ensure your body working at its best. 

Here are some specific tips you might consider adding to your prevention routine:

Warm Up

Doing some warmup exercises before you hit the rink, hill or slopes is essential to preventing winter sports injuries. Long-term, winter athletes should see our physiotherapists for an injury risk assessment as part of pre-season preparation. 

A warmup routine should include:

  • Twisting your upper body 
  • Stretching your arms, back and legs
  • Circling your arms 
  • Exercises to energize leg muscles, such as on-the-spot running or squats 
  • Wrist and ankle rotations '

Remember to do these exercises once you've got your gear on, then again once you're about to head out onto the slopes or rink, since your muscles will cool down while you wait in line in the arena for the ski lift. 

Have the Right Gear

Make sure you've got the right sports and safety gear specific to your chosen activity, and wear thin, insulating layers underneath your coat. 

Wear a Properly Sized Helmet 

Brain injuries can happen in a second and dramatically impact your life, resulting in permanent disability - some can even be life-threatening. No matter your age or athletic ability, it's important for everyone (and every member of your family) to be fitted for a helmet and to wear it each time you engage in your chosen activity. 

Learn to Fall 

Whether we're on the hills, slopes or a backyard rink, falls are inevitable. But how we fall can mean the difference between enduring a winter sports injury such as a sprained muscle or fractured bone and being able to exercise again in the next few days. If you're unable to prevent a fall, our advice is to not fight it and instead try to land on your bottom or on your side and roll.  

Are you wondering how physical therapy can help you prevent winter sports injuries? Let's discuss how we can help you stay safe and physically active.

We can help develop a treatment and exercise plan to help you live a healthy lifestyle.

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Welcome to the Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre blog, where we provide lots of helpful tips, news, information and advice about physiotherapy and massage treatments, as well as general health and wellness, in Nepean and Ottawa.

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(613) 727-5755