It’s March. Here in the northern 802, however, we’ve got a long way to go. March tends to come in like a lamb and go out like a lion up here, and my clinic is slammed beyond belief with no sign of letting up. Part of it is just standard winter fun getting out of hand, but I think a component this year also includes what I call Winter Olympics syndrome, which takes it all to a new level. I love you all and want more than anything to help each and every single person who calls me, and I am honored that you do. But if you keep finding silly ways to hurt yourself this winter I will not be able to fit you all in, because I have a family and cannot work 24/7, however much I’d like to help!
Now I am not trying to ruin your fun. I really don’t think I’m being too demanding here. You can continue to do you, and spend as much time as you like shredding hard and enjoying the winter as long as it lasts. Just let good judgement prevail and don’t do these 10 dumb things because I’m telling you that the risk outweighs the benefit, no matter how fabulously fun they seem. Stop it now! Because you could end up ruining your spring and summer if you do not. And then you’ll have to tell everyone who asks you, i.e. everyone, how it happened, and you’ll be famous around town for being an idiot. Trust me, I see this all the time.
10. Drive a snowmobile like you’re in NASCAR. Can we just drive a snowmobile like a normal person and not like Danica Patrick, please? Those suckers flip over and seriously injure people. And I’m talking a spinal cord or head injury here, not just your standard winter compound tib/fib fracture.
9. Sled like you’re a luge or skeleton champion, or with a pile of kids on your back. I agree, there’s an opportunity for a moment to go sledding and your brain goes WAHOO! Mine does too. Could you please just not get carried away, and consider bailing on the jumps your kids and their friends built, or roll off if you see a tree or another sledder coming? It’s also uncool to crush one of your kids or even worse, one of their friends. Every winter there’s a kid or two in the clinic with injuries sustained by being smushed by their dad during a sledding crash. And let’s not even discuss “snurfing,” because I don’t want to give you any terrible ideas. I’ll just end it by saying that trying to stand up on a sled speeding downhill never works out the way you think it will.
8. Bail on the helmet on the mountain. That is not only a really dumb thing to do, but it looks like you’re permanently stuck in 1997. Yes, the statistics are all over the map, and people still sustain serious injuries while wearing helmets. Your chances of a concussion while wearing a helmet, however, are decreased by anywhere from 25 percent to 70 percent, and that’s good enough for me to keep on supporting their use. Plus they are warm. Trust me, if you sustain a bad concussion while skiing or riding without a helmet, you will regret that decision for a long time, possibly forever.
7. Check your best friend hard into the boards during stick and puck time or public skate at the rink. Like having 2 rotator cuffs? Yes, I thought so. Can you afford to have one non-intact? No, I didn’t think so.
6. Boot ski. Seriously? How many drinks did it take for that to happen?
5. Let your significant other convince you that he/she can teach you to ski. Of course you guys love each other and it’s the thought that counts. Please, please take a lesson with a pro first, if you value your ACLs.
4. Take a break indoors to warm up, and do a headstand in a yoga class. This is a maneuver that should only be attempted by those with years of training and experience who have built up their balance and upper body strength. Don’t let anyone, and I mean anyone, convince you to try it, particularly if you have any history of neck pain.
3. Have a midlife crisis and hit the terrain park. I’m not saying you aren’t a fabulously fit and coordinated athlete, it’s just that the majority of us missed that particular developmental window of time. Unless you learned how to do this stuff by the time you hit your teens, you are unlikely to be the next Shaun White or Chloe Kim.
2. Jump the ropes. Ski Patrol closes trails for safety, not to make your life miserable. I don’t care what your background is. It’s frequently the expert skiers who jump the ropes and end up in the clinic.
1. Go for a hike (or walk, or run) without your spikes. I understand, it’s warmed up to 45 or 50 degrees, the sun’s out, so the ice must have melted, right? It unfortunately can take a while for all the layers to disappear, and you need to be careful for another 6 weeks or longer, particularly in the woods. Ice injuries are no joke. Play it safe even if it seems that it there can’t possibly be any ice left, and bring the spikes in a small backpack or camelback, just in case. You’ll look like an elite athlete in one of those for an added bonus.
–Kathleen Doehla, M.S. P.T.