Finalising your preparation and head and spine related injuries with prevention
In this, final, release of 3 series ski blog we will advise you on completing the shopping for essentials when it comes to skiing. You will still need to attain base, mid and outer layers, pants, backpack and socks. We will also talk about the most common head and spine injuries in skiing and how to minimise the chance of experiencing one.
Base, mid and outer layers:
These are essential pieces to help you to regulate your body temperature, keep you warm and prevent entry for moisture to keep you dry. Base layer is the first layer closest to your skin. It helps to draw liquid (sweat) away from the body. This is usually made of fine Marino or synthetic polyester materials which are great in wicking the sweat away from your skin to the further layers. It is vital that you use a proper base layer and not just your regular cotton T-shirt because cotton absorbs sweat meaning the t-shirt is going to remain damp ultimately making you clammy, sweaty and cold. There are numerous brands, shapes and sizes of base layers so when choosing one, it is very important to consider the weather conditions as colder weather usually requires thicker and heavier base layer.
There is a lot of flexibility when choosing the mid layer. It can be a regular hoody or any other piece of clothing you are comfortable in. It will sit between your base layer and your jacket and is there to help you regulate body temperature and keep you warm.
Outer layer (jacket) acts as a shield against the weather. We recommend it to be waterproof but breathable so that it could help your base and mid layers do their job in keeping you warm and allowing the sweat vapour to escape but at the same time preventing the entry of moisture. It also should fit you well and be comfortable. If the layer is too big it might allow snow and/or rain to enter making you cold alongside making you uncomfortable while you on the slopes.
They are usually underrated piece of equipment when it comes to skiing. It is not only to make you look good, but it is there to keep you dry and warm while you are hitting the slopes. We recommend waterproof pants. The level of waterproofing is numerical basically meaning the higher the number, the better the waterproofing is. Some pants which are made from special materials do not follow the numerical order, hence, if you are not sure seek help from the shop assistant. Moreover, ski pants can be insulated or uninsulated with a lining. Insulation impacts the warmth and body temperature regulation so for extra warmth and comfort we recommend the uninsulated ones with extra lining. If you get cold very quickly you might also want to consider wearing thermal leggings underneath your ski pants.
Are great if you are preparing to go on a long skiing intervals on off-piste powder runs or groomed pistes on ski resorts. Piste is a long run of compacted snow which can last for miles. Having a backpack specially designed for skiing can make a huge difference to your experience. You will be able to have space to pop in some extra water or drink for hydration, some snacks like protein bars, chocolate chip cookie gifts, snack bars or even have a thermos flask for a hot cup of tea when you decide to take a break.
You will also be able to have some spare clothing or other accessories just in case. There is a vast variety of backpacks available so when choosing one, estimate how much equipment you might have to carry with you. Apart from that, ensure that it fits you well and lastly that it suits your style and looks good with the rest of your fancy equipment.
Common spine and head injuries:
Head and spine injuries are relatively rare in comparison to other injuries when it comes to skiing. However, head injury or traumatic head injury is the leading cause for fatalities on the slopes. Spinal cord injuries are estimated to be amongst, if not the least occurring type of injuries, however, they can be extremely serious and result in long term paralysis.
Traumatic head injuries, also known as concussions, are injuries to your head. Severity of the concussion depends on the impact and protective gear.
- Symptoms: Headache after the impact which is not going away or worsening, feeling nauseous, dizzy and sick, being sick, feeling lethargic and fatigued, memory loss, loss of consciousness, impact on vision (blurred vision, double vision), troubled or loss of balance, unusual behaviour (being irritated easily, frequent mood swings).
- Cause: Most commonly due to jumping and falling down. Impact with other skier and/or trees is less common.
- Prevention: Best option to avoid head injuries is to wear a properly fitted helmet. Also, know your ability and try to ski on the slopes suited for your level of skill. Watch your speed and ensure that you have a good control.
They affect the spinal column, which is made of 24 vertebras, which are bony pieces of your spine. There are 7 vertebras in your neck, 12 in the mid back and 5 in the lower back areas. Between the vertebra you have something called an intervertebral disc which is there to help with the shock absorbance. The spinal column is a structure located inside the vertebra and is running from your brain all the way down to the spinal column. Spinal cord is the origin for all of the nerves in the body.
There are several types of spinal injuries, however, the most common ones in skiing are whiplash injury, spinal fractures and disc prolapse which may occur with or without nerve compression.
Whiplash type injury:
- Symptoms: Acute pain around the neck region. You may experience headache, neck stiffness, muscle spasm around the neck.
- Cause: High speed collision or heavy landing after jump.
- Prevention: Ensure to watch your speed, understand your level of skill and try to stick to your ability. Some neck strengthening exercises can help to develop muscular support.
Spinal fracture with and without nerve compression:
- Symptoms: Pain in the affected area, pain while moving, tenderness, swelling and bruising around the area, muscle spasm. If the nerves are affected you may also experience muscular weakness in arms or legs, pins and needles, tingling and numbness. In severe cases you might experience paralysis and alteration of bowel and bladder habits.
- Cause: Heavy landing after jump. It can be a direct fall on the back or injury may occur due to compression of the vertebras when you land on your bottom.
- Prevention: Ensure to watch your speed, understand your level of skill and try to stick to your ability. Some strengthening and balance exercises can help you to have a better body control while on the slopes.
Intervertebral disc prolapse:
- Symptoms: Back pain, difficulty bending or straightening your back, carrying something heavier. In the case of nerve compression, you might experience pins and needles, tingling, numbness and weakness in your legs or arms.
- Causes: Same as spinal fracture.
- Prevention: Same as spinal fracture.
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