Oregon winters are an interesting affair. Depending on what kind of weather you want, you can find it somewhere nearby. You certainly won’t find any 90 degree days with uninterrupted sunshine, but just about anything else is a day trip away from the Mid Willamette Valley. Florence and Bend are only a couple hours away from Eugene in either direction. For those in the valley, skiing and sledding are only a short drive away.
Sledding is a winter-time staple largely because it is pretty simple to do. It doesn’t require the amount of balance or skill that something like skiing does. As long as you can sit and hold on to your sled, you can have a good time.
Much like skiing and snowboarding, sledding does have some inherent risks with it. The potential for head injuries in these activities is fairly high. In a way, sledding is somewhat more dangerous because there’s less ability to steer yourself away from hazards. Among the biggest concerns with something like sledding is the possibility of a head/neck injury, especially concussions or spinal cord injuries. Preventing sledding injuries, especially of the head/neck is challenging, but there are steps you can take to help yourself out.
How to Prevent Sledding Injuries:
- Be aware of your surroundings – Know your route and if you need to steer around things like trees, rocks, etc. If it’s a busy ski slope, check beside and behind you for anyone else who might be coming down with you. This is more of a common sense thing, but it’s arguably the most important thing to have in mind!
- Strengthen the muscles in your neck – A strong neck is correlated with reduced risk in concussions in athletes (more information can be found here). The neck has a surprising number of muscles, so you might as well use them the way they’re supposed to be used. Try doing some chin tucks and head lifts (shown here). Start with 2-3 sets of 10 reps, holding each rep for 3 seconds. Once that gets easier, try longer duration holds, working up to 3-5 reps of 30 second holds.
- Learn to roll – Make sure that you know how to roll! While collisions are likely to happen suddenly, rolling out of them can make them a lot safer. In general, it is better if you can roll sideways (think rolling from one shoulder to the other) as opposed to head to toe. The other key point is to protect your head. If you’re rolling shoulder to shoulder, have your arms straight up towards your head and they’ll keep your head away from the ground. If rolling head to toe you’ll need to wrap your arms around your head.
Sledding is a simple, fun winter activity but it does have a high potential for injury. Sledding injuries is a quick way to end your fun day of sledding. Make sure you have a plan before you start flying down the slopes.
***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice. Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.