National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Offers Tips on How to Play Safe, Whether You're an Olympian or Weekend Figure Skater

Contact: Robin Waxenberg - (212) 489-8006 Ellen Satlof - (214) 637-6282, ext. 159 DALLAS, January 31 – With less than two weeks to go, the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games are already inspiring millions of athletes of all ages to get out their sleds, skates, skis and snowboards and head for the hills and rinks. Before doing so, The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), a not-for-profit organization that represents 30,000 members of the athletic training profession, has a safety checklist that even the most experienced athlete could benefit from. “There’s no doubt many folks will feel energized during the 16 days of the Winter Games,” says athletic trainer Brian FitzGerald, BSN, ATC, assistant medical director at the 2006 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships in St. Louis. “It will be a great time to have fun with your family and friends and try new activities. Before doing so, I suggest you consider these tips.” * Get Checked: Talk with your physician to make sure you or your children are fit for outdoor activities. Review your medical history with your doctor and discuss any previous injuries or pre-existing conditions that may hinder your participation in a recreational or organized sport.

  • Fuel Yourself: Eat whole grain, low-fat and nutritious foods that will keep your body going strong. Drink plenty of water or sports drinks, such as Gatorade, to stay well-hydrated before, during and after each activity.
  • Layer Up: Wear layers of clothing for maximum warmth and take them off as needed. Make sure the layer closest to your skin is made with a material that will “wick” moisture from your skin. The outer layer should be wind proof and water resistant. Remember your hat, headband and gloves, and wear reflective clothing if you’re playing in the dark.
  • Protect Your Face: Apply skin care products to your face and lips that contain an SPF of 15 or more to help avoid frostbite and sunburn.
  • Use Quality Equipment: Purchase products from reputable manufacturers and follow their instructions. Take into account your height, weight, age and experience to ensure the best possible fit. Be aware of hand-me-downs or used equipment to make sure they meet appropriate standards.
  • Choose Age-Appropriate Activities: Determine which activities would be appropriate for your children based on their age, skill level, ability and interest.
  • Ask For Help: Sign up for lessons if you’re trying out a sport for the first time, Make sure your instructor is properly qualified and certified to teach. Review proper techniques with a pro and practice until perfect.
  • Condition Yourself: Stretch all your muscle groups before each activity you participate in to stay well-toned and avoid injury. Hold stretches for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times. Cool down with gentle stretches after your activity to relax your muscles.
  • Know Your Limitations: Be aware of your skill level ability and conditioning before hitting the double diamonds on skis or trying a triple jump on skates. Depending on your age and experience, you may need to modify your activity. If you’re trying something new, it’s always a good idea to increase activity moderately to avoid injury.
  • Pair Up: Invite a friend to join in on the fun. Not only will he or she be a great companion (and encourage a little healthy competition), but, in the case of an emergency, you will be there for each other.
  • Stay on Course: Stay on ski trails or other surfaces that are well traveled and are on your level of experience. Be familiar with the area as well as what emergency options exist. Keep a cell phone on hand for unexpected situations.
  • Control Your Speed: Whether on the rink or slope, be aware of others and control your speed. You may be “Going for the Gold,” but be smart when it comes to speed to avoid your own injury or a collision with others.
  • Think With Your Head: Wear a helmet if you’re planning to ski, snowboard or sled. Though you may think you’ll only be hitting the “powder,” a helmet can literally save your life.
  • Know When to Stop: Think twice before taking one more run or skate around the rink. Be aware of your energy level and concentration as the last run can often be the one that leads to injury.
  • Avoid Bad Weather: Stay in, heat up some cocoa and watch “The Miracle” -- the movie that tells the story of the US Hockey team’s gold medal victory in 1980.

“Winter is a fantastic season for playing outdoors, whether you’re five or 50. It’s a short season though, so don’t put off enjoying the outdoor sports you love,” says Cameron A. Myler, a four-time Olympic luge competitor. “As someone who has experienced a sports-related injury, I know that playing smart is a winning strategy for getting the most out of your time in the snow.” About the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA): Athletic trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax).

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