DURING winter, those who are active need to prepare for the cold conditions or risk injuries, warns Sports Medicine Australia.
Hospital data shows an increase of more than 30% for sporting injuries during winter months.
Exercising or playing sport in cold conditions can lead to sprains, strains and blisters and, in extreme cold conditions, snow blindness, frostbite and hypothermia.
Sports Medicine Australia spokesman David Bolzonello said wintry conditions should not be a barrier to exercising. All that was needed was good preparation.
"Exercising in cold weather no doubt places extra demands on the body, which can lead to reduced sporting performance and injuries," Dr Bolzonello said.
"Most cold-related injuries can be prevented with good preparation and the correct equipment."
Sports Medicine Australia offers these timely tips:
- Acclimatise yourself to exercising in colder weather. Train outdoors instead of inside.
- Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are at greater risk of injury. Warm up, stretch and cool down for longer than usual.
- Be aware that sunburn can occur even on cold and cloudy days (especially when skiing or snowboarding as UV radiation is more severe in alpine regions). Apply broad-spectrum 30+ sunscreen to exposed skin. Also wear eyewear with UV protection.
- Drink water before, during and after activity.
- Don't drink alcohol. While an alcoholic drink seems to warm you up, it actually dilates your blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the skin thereby increasing heat loss by exchange to cold air.
- Dress in layers to trap heat and prevent heat loss. Add or remove layers to exercise level/conditions.
- Make sure footwear fits properly. Footwear that is too tight or too loose will affect skin circulation and cause blisters.
- Those with a medical condition affecting the feet, such as diabetes, should see a doctor before taking part in winter sports.
- Visit sma.org.au.