Tips for Avoiding Winter Sports Injuries

We’re in the height of winter. Some of us are winter sports enthusiasts, others not so much. Did you know that hundreds of thousands of Americans will seek medical treatment because of injuries while skiing, skating, snowboarding, sledding and tobogganing this winter, according to research conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission? Whether you are a winter sport pro or novice, getting in shape and taking a few simple precautions can help make sure you take advantage of our winter wonderland without ending up on crutches or with other serious injuries.

Dress Correctly

Don’t shorten your time outdoors because you can’t stay warm or feel a cold coming on. Wear several layers of clothing to trap body heat, including a long-sleeve shirt, sweatshirt and outer coat. Invest in waterproof boots, a hat and gloves. Good goggles and a helmet can literally be lifesavers when participating in speed sports. Dress for the top of the mountain – it’s always colder than the bottom.


Even though it’s cold out, you still sweat and need to stay hydrated. Winter is also a time when wind and sun can dry out your skin. Drink plenty of water before, during and after strenuous activities, particularly when exercising at higher altitudes. Apply long-lasting waterproof sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside and apply lip balm to keep your lips from drying, cracking and bleeding.

Protect Your Ankles

If you’ll be wearing skates or ski or snowboarding boots, choose ones that fit snugly but don’t cut off circulation. Wear socks that keep you warm and keep you stable in your boots.

Warm Up

Avoid long static stretching or holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds before you begin exercise. This not only temporarily desensitizes your muscles and decreases your power and vertical leap, but it can also mask muscle pain that might be a warning sign to take it easy. Start with a quick stretch followed by exercises to raise your heart rate, such as jumping jacks, arm swings and running in place.

Core Exercises

Most winter sports require good balance, which relies on strong core muscles. Include at least 10 minutes of core exercises two to three times per week, choosing movements that mirror the activities you’ll be doing outside. Make sure to move your core forward and back, as well as side-to-side.

Improve Reactive Power

Prepare for winter activities by doing workouts that help you perform the powerful side-to-side and up-and-down movements necessary for snowboarding, skiing, and skating. These movements require you to use two muscle groups to create reactive power, such as jumping off a mogul or making quick turns. Use resistance bands, dumbbells, and calisthenics to build your leg and core muscles. Lunges, jump squats, burpees and jumping as high as you can are good choices. Target your hamstrings and calves, which can cramp if you overdo it on the slopes, pond, or hill.

Learn How to Fall

Many people break bones by not falling correctly. This often occurs when they stick their arms straight out and use their hands to try and break a fall. Landing on your shoulder can cause serious and long-term ligament and/or tendon damage. Learning how to avoid falls and how to fall correctly can help protect your arms and legs.

Skip the Last Run and Listen to Your Body

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises that many winter sports injuries occur later in the day, suggesting that people might be getting injured because they are pushing their limits to make that final ski or snowboard run. If you feel fatigued and are debating whether or not to take that one last run, it’s probably a good time to call it a day. Always listen to your body. If you’re tired, stop. Any time you have chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and dizziness, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

Know Where to Go if You do Get Injured

Sports injuries can come on suddenly or occur gradually. Even a minor injury can keep you from participating in activities you love or performing your best. Trinity Health Michigan delivers specialized care to help you get back in the game safely and without pain.

Find an Orthopedic Expert Near You.

Tips to Keep Your Joints Healthy & Free from Pain this Winter

Winter months offer tons of leisure activities to enjoy as well as everyday chores such as shoveling. Whether you are preparing for yard work or an afternoon of fun, keep in mind a few helpful tips from the Trinity Health Orthopedics team to help keep your joints healthy and free from pain.


Excessive bending, lifting, and twisting can strain your back and put you at risk for injuries like muscle strains, joint subluxations, and disc herniations. Remember to:

  • Warm up first,
  • Bend with your knees and hips, not your back.
  • Engage your abs.

Keep Moving or Exercising

Cold weather and less daylight make it tempting to snuggle up on the couch. But it is still important to keep moving your body. One of the biggest risk factors for joint injury is remaining inactive. Appropriate and safe exercise can help keep your muscles strong and your joints healthy. Exercising can even give your immune system a boost.

Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks as Needed

The cold dry air tends to dehydrate our bodies. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Use Caution

Black ice, wet snow, salt and sand can make surfaces more slippery during the fall and winter months. Make sure to use caution when walking around town. Give yourself extra time to get places, avoid the temptation of running or rushing, wear appropriate footwear, and always use handrails when going up or down stairs to help you avoid an accidental trip and fall.

Make Sure you Have the Proper Tools or Equipment for Your Activity

Getting the last of the leaves or preparing to shovel the driveway? Make sure you have the tools or equipment that best fits you. Plastic or metal options and something light weight is a smart choice. Keep in mind ergonomics.

If you do feel you have injured your back or joints and have been dealing with nagging pain, take the next step to enjoy activities with less pain.

Learn More About our Orthopedic Program and Schedule a Consultation Today.

Understanding Arthritis: Q/A with Dr. Bryan Pack

Bryan Pack, MD, is a board-certified Trinity Health IHA Medical Group orthopaedic surgeon performing surgeries at Trinity Health St. Mary Mercy Livonia and Trinity Health Medical Center – Schoolcraft (formerly the Livonia Medical Center). He earned his medical degree at Wayne State University and completed his orthopaedic surgery residency in Grand Rapids before a hip and knee fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He spoke with Friday Musings about arthritis, how it develops and the available treatment options.

Q1: What exactly is arthritis and how does it develop?

Dr. Pack: Arthritis is a degenerative, progressive condition of the joint where the cartilage that coats the end of the bone begins to diminish. The stresses and changing of mechanics can cause inflammation in the joint.

There are several different ways it can develop. The most common way is through wear and tear – otherwise known as osteoarthritis – from daily activities such as walking, or more high-impact activities like running. Body weight, genetics, and even type of occupation can all contribute to this. Less commonly, rheumatoid type processes are where the immune system gets confused and essentially attacks the joints, leading to cartilage.

There is also traumatic arthritis, which is when a person suffers a major injury to the surrounding bone (fracture, severe bruise), ligaments (tear or rupture), or cartilage itself. The blood supply to the bone underneath the cartilage can then be compromised, which can cause the joint to collapse.

Q2: What are some symptoms of arthritis?

Dr. Pack: The most common symptoms are joint stiffness, activity-related pain, swelling and generalized soreness. You may notice an affected joint that is stiffer in the morning and loosens up with activity during the day, but is more painful or swollen at the end of the day. If activities you do on a regular basis start causing more pain in certain joints, you could have some form or arthritis. As it progresses, you will frequently lose range of motion and strength in the joint. In advanced cases, you may even start to see changes in the alignment of the joint.

Q3: What are some treatment options?

Dr. Pack: We initially highlight evidence-based non-operative treatments, which focuses on managing the stress and inflammation of the joint. Activity modification, such as transitioning from higher impact sports to low-impact activities, can make a difference. For instance, if you are an avid runner and feel excessive pain during or after every run, changing up your cardio routine and going for a bike ride instead can improve symptoms. Other activities like yoga or taking a swimming class are also good for arthritic joints. We frequently recommend appropriate physical therapy and dedicated exercises that emphasize strength and flexibility.

Medications like ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and pain in the joint, as can cortisone and steroid injections. Even acetaminophen can help control pain in some people. If the arthritis and symptoms are severe enough, joint replacement surgery is an excellent and durable option.

Q4: What happens if you leave arthritis untreated?

Dr. Pack: All types of arthritis are progressive. Symptoms and pain can be managed to an extent, but no treatment, short of replacement, can stop it, and it doesn’t go away on its own. Typically, over time, the disease progresses to the point where you won’t be able to do the activities you are used to doing, and your quality of life will continue to diminish. You could also lose your mobility altogether; some people have come into my office in wheelchairs because they couldn’t move, which is frequently avoidable and unfortunately, far more difficult to treat. The earlier you get it checked out, the better.

Q5: What kind of services do you offer your patients?

Dr. Pack: We offer comprehensive musculoskeletal care, all in one building, and mostly on just one floor. We have fellowship-trained surgeons, podiatrists, non-operative orthopaedic sports and rheumatology physicians, as well as physical therapy, all under one roof. Our specialists emphasize shared decision-making, in which we empower our patients to make informed decisions that fit their needs and pathology. If surgery is appropriate, our experts utilize minimally invasive techniques – even for replacement – that offer faster recoveries, proven results and frequently home-same-day surgeries.

Our staff utilize state-of-the-art high-resolution imaging equipment, including digital automated X-rays systems which can reduce both the number of images we have to take and your radiation exposure as well. Since these are located a few steps from the exam and waiting rooms, you don’t have to go anywhere else before your evaluation. And if you need advanced imaging, brand new MRI and CT suites are located right on the first floor, along with a walk-in lab, urgent care, pharmacy, café catered by Schoolcraft College’s culinary program, and a beautiful new surgery center.

To make an appointment with Dr. Pack, call 866-678-4644.

Be Active Again

Supermom and journalist, Mona Shand spends a great deal of time and energy running her three kids to and from dance class, cross country and swim practice, while juggling her career as producer and correspondent for the media industry and teaching aerobics. At age 43, she was devastated to learn that she needed a total hip replacement, and was sure that it meant she would be spending the rest of her life as a sideline parent.

Dr. Gibson assured her that it would not be the end of her active lifestyle, but rather the start of a new, pain-free life. He was right.

Less than six weeks after surgery, Mona competed in a one-mile open water swim race with her oldest son, Noah.

Know Your Options: Direct Anterior Approach to Total Hip Replacement

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year in the United States, more than 330,000 people have surgery to replace diseased, injured or worn-out hips with new artificial parts. If you are one of these people, ask your orthopedic surgeon if you are a candidate for the anterior-lateral approach (anterior means front) for total hip replacement. This surgical technique offers potential benefits over the standard posterior or lateral approach taken by most surgeons.

Approaching the hip through an incision in the front of the body allows the surgeon to avoid cutting muscle tissues surrounding the hip. By sparing these muscle tissues, a surgeon is able to reduce the patient’s pain and improve their overall mobility immediately following a procedure. As a result, a patient recovers much more quickly and is able to avoid weeks or months of prolonged physical therapy.

St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Orthopedic Surgeon Andrew Ciarlone,DO, who has performed more than 500 anterior-lateral total hip replacements since 2011, refers to the approach as the “rapid-recovery hip replacement.” Dr. Ciarlone says: “When the incision point is made from the back, a surgeon must cut through muscle tissues to reach the hip. By choosing to make an incision from the front, a surgeon can work between the muscles to stabilize the joints and place the artificial components.” Continue reading “Know Your Options: Direct Anterior Approach to Total Hip Replacement”

Rediscover Your Mobility – Don’t Settle for Joint Pain

by John Cunningham, RN

Cunningham, JohnDoes standing up, walking or carrying something make your knee, hip or shoulder scream with pain? You’re not alone. Joint pain is extremely common – about one-third of adults have reported some form of joint pain in the last 30 days. While knee, shoulder and hip pain are the most common, joint pain can affect any part of the body and can range from mildly irritating to debilitating.

Joint pain can be caused by injury, excess weight or most commonly, arthritis. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 22 percent of adults claim to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis and by the year 2040, an estimated 78 million adults will have arthritis.

The impact is significant. About 43 percent of individuals with arthritis report limitations on daily activities – walking, gardening, playing with grandkids, and at times even getting out of bed. Everyone is at risk for arthritis – nearly one in two people will develop arthritis in the knee by the age of 85 and two in three people who are obese may develop it in their lifetime. One in four may develop painful hip arthritis by age 85. Continue reading “Rediscover Your Mobility – Don’t Settle for Joint Pain”

Getting Back on The Dance Floor

Karen Langdon enjoyed dancing, scuba diving and living an active lifestyle with her husband. This all came to a screeching halt when the onset of debilitating pain in both hips, stemming from severe hip arthritis made doing the simple things in life, almost impossible.

“It got so bad that I couldn’t do two dances in a row and over time it got worse and worse,” explained Karen.

Following two minimally invasive total hip replacements, performed by G. Victor Gibson, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, using the anterior hip approach, Karen was able to reconnect with her loving dance partner, virtually pain free.

“Now I can go shopping and walk around the mall if I want to, scuba diving of course, and best of all I can go dancing with my husband again,” explains Karen.

“Karen has significantly fewer restrictions following the anterior hip approach as opposed to more traditional total hip replacements,” says Dr. Victor Gibson.

Karen has re-discovered her freedom, living a life free of pain. “There really are no restrictions after surgery. Just go do it, I recommend it highly, you will be so glad you did. Living a life that’s no longer in constant pain is wonderful.”

Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery Wins Over Skeptics

“It’s hard to imagine that only a few short years ago all shoulder repair surgeries were performed with large, wide-open wounds,” said Michael Chrissos, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Michigan Orthopedic Center on the campus of St. Joe’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. “The vast of shoulder repairs — some 99 percent — are performed arthroscopically. There is far less pain, blood loss and muscle trauma, and a much smaller scar.”

Recovery is tricky because according to Chrissos, patients feel so good right after surgery they try to do too much too soon. “It’s critical patients understand that the healing process takes time,” he cautions. “But this procedure not only relieves the shoulder pain they were suffering before they came to see me and vastly improves their range of motion, but that takes time.”

For Chrissos, this was a hands-on opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a wide-spread revolution. “At first there was a lot of resistance and plenty of skepticism,” he said, “and there should have been. When something new is introduced, you want to be sure it’s proven; but I knew intuitively that this technique was going to meet—or surpass—the results of open surgery.” Continue reading “Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery Wins Over Skeptics”

ACL Tears Are Treatable and So Are Other Orthopedic Conditions

Many health-conscious Americans are on a quest to lead a more active lifestyle by participating in sports to be healthier and hopefully ward off disease and injury. At times, the body breaks down due to this increased activity and injuries occur.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are one of the most common injuries among athletes. According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, about 150,000 ACL injuries occur in the United States every year.

The ACL is important for maintaining the stability in the knee, particularly in activities involving cutting, pivoting or kicking. The ACL is one of four major ligaments (ligaments connect bone to bone) that coordinate function and promote stability of the knee joint. ACL injuries are usually non-contact injuries that occur most commonly in sports such as basketball, soccer, football, downhill skiing and tennis.

According to Shivajee Nallamothu, DO, a St. Joe’s orthopedic surgeon, ACL injuries include a sprain or tear of the ACL and typically occur from a direct blow to the knee when it is hyperextended or bent slightly inward, often during a sport such as football. Continue reading “ACL Tears Are Treatable and So Are Other Orthopedic Conditions”

Non-surgical remedies for ACL Injury

Whether it is on a ski slope, football field, basketball court or soccer field, the ACL ligament is critical to running, jumping or otherwise moving quickly on your feet.

The ACL is located in the middle of the knee, where it acts as a stabilizer for the knee and keeps the tibia (the shinbone) from sliding too far forward. Kyle Anderson, MD, a St. Joseph Mercy Oakland orthopedic surgeon, says that while ACL tears are widely discussed within the context of professional sports, it is an injury that can strike athletes at all levels, including in high school.

Dr. Anderson should know. Not only does he specialize in orthopedic sports medicine and knee, shoulder and elbow reconstruction, he has treated hundreds of professional athletes, as well as many collegiate and recreational athletes.

People often hear the ACL pop when it tears or breaks, Dr. Anderson says. Pain, swelling, tenderness and loss of motion are other symptoms. The leg is usually, but not always, unstable and it may become too painful to bear weight. Continue reading “Non-surgical remedies for ACL Injury”

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