Sports Medicine 8 Essential Winter Sport Safety Tips for Every Athlete By Sports Medicine, December 8, 2016 Before you hit the slopes or step onto the rink this winter, keep in mind these eight tips to help keep you safe and ready to take on the elements. Essential Tips for Winter Sport Safety Stay hydrated Drink plenty of water especially if you are in cold temperatures and at elevation. Avoid heavily caffeinated drinks and alcohol. Remember, if you feel thirsty, you may already be getting dehydrated. RELATED: Sports Drink vs Water: Which Is Better? Whether you’re preparing for a winter sport or planning a ski vacation, UPMC Sports Medicine experts recommend proper training to avoid common injuries and illnesses. Practice yoga To prevent injury and increase flexibility, yoga is recommended for skiers and snowboarders as part of a conditioning program. Add cardio to your workouts Cardio training such as swimming, running, cycling or rowing are ideal for skiers and snowboarders to implement in their preseason conditioning. Check your equipment Be sure to check all of your equipment prior to hitting the slopes. That means bindings are properly adjusted, and boots are fitted and attached to your skis/snowboard. Improve strength Core exercises, as well as squats and lunges, are beneficial in increasing strength and preventing injury for skiers and snowboarders. Wear layers when exercising outdoors Each cold-weather outfit should have three parts to it: a base layer, a mid layer, and a shell. Proper layering is the key to your success in the brisk, wintery months. Wear fabrics that provide the best insulation to keep you warm, and more importantly, are moisture-wicking to keep you dry. Protect your skin When it’s cold and breezy, the wind can dry out your skin, reddening the surface and causing it to feel a lot like sunburn. If you are heading out to run, ski, or snowshoe, try to cover exposed areas of skin. Moisturizing can also prevent the effects of this wind burn. RELATED: 4 W’s of Winter Skin Care Acclimate to your environment Know as much as possible about the environment where you will be competing or vacationing. Adjusting to colder temperature or higher altitudes can take a few days and people often respond differently. For more information from sports medicine experts, visit the UPMC Sports Medicine website.