Simple Steps to Safely Navigating Winter Sports from Intermountain Health

Industry: Healthcare

Athletic trainer coordinator for Intermountain Health Cedar City Regional Hospital says don't stay inside in winter, just take some extra precautions.

Cedar City, UT (PRUnderground) February 16th, 2023

During the cold, snowy months of January and February, the tendency to stay cozy inside often prevails. But just because its winter doesn’t mean you have to hang up your motivation for exercise, or your enthusiasm for athletics. It just means it’s time to take additional precautions.

“Protective gear is essential for all sports, and that means proper fitting clothing and clothing appropriate for the sport,” said Melissa Mendini Gates, athletic trainer coordinator for Intermountain Health Cedar City Regional Hospital.

For those hitting the slopes on skis or snowboards or even sleds, proper clothing generally means dressing in layers, as well as strapping on goggles and helmets. Though Mendini Gates adds an additional caution when it comes to helmets.

“I want you to wear a helmet. It will prevent serious injuries,” Mendini Gates said. “But it’s important to remember that a helmet does not make you indestructible. It won’t protect you from a concussion.”

With concussions taking a spotlight once again in the media, Mendini Gates said it is important to recognize what helmets will protect, and what they won’t.

“A helmet protects from impact to the head, but it doesn’t prevent the brain’s impact to the skull,” she said.

Staying smart and staying safe on the slopes and in other sports are still paramount in avoiding serious head injuries.

Winter weather lends itself to an array of other safety concerns, for athletes as well as the average person just trying to walk down the street. Although Mendini Gates said she doesn’t personally deal with many ice fall injuries in her work with high school athletes, the safety precautions she teaches athletes can be applied to people trying to avoid injury when slipping on the ice.

“People tend to want to fall on an outstretched hand,” Mendini Gates said. “We call that FOOSH (Fall On Outstretched Hand) and it leads to a lot of injuries. People try to catch themselves and you end up with wrist fractures, collarbone fractures, all kinds of orthopedic injuries.”

Instead, Mendini Gates teaches athletes to fall on their side or butt if possible and roll into the fall.

“You want to tuck your shoulder, fall on your side, and roll through it,” she said. “That applies to anyone, even someone falling on ice.”

While most of the winter sports Mendini Gates oversees, like basketball, wrestling and drill team, compete inside, she said it is important to remember proper hydration no matter the season or the location of the exercise.

“When it gets cold, people think they don’t need to hydrate as much because you may not feel as thirsty, but you still need to drink plenty of fluids,” Mendini Gates said. “The general recommendation is 7-10 ounces for every 20 minutes of physical activity.”

“We just want athletes and everyone to be able to enjoy their activities and stay safe,” she added.

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see

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