The weather outside might be frightful, but that doesn’t stop winter sports enthusiasts. While some want to sit inside with hot cocoa and a book, others hit the slopes, lace up their skates or pull out their sleds.

But when Americans are unprepared for winter exertion, they can set themselves up for injury. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 84,000 skiers, 30,000 skaters, 30,000 hockey players, 20,000 sledders and tobogganers and 19,000 snowmobilers enter emergency rooms each season.

With a little preparation, winter sports enthusiasts can lessen their risk of injury. Here are some tips for athletes who want to hit the slopes more than once this winter:

Take a lesson or two. You probably didn’t ski, skate or snowmobile over the summer, so taking a refresher course with a professional can help you brush up on basics. Beginners sustain more injuries than experienced athletes, so arm yourself with knowledge before you put the ski to snow.

Learn about any new gear. Ask your instructor to explain equipment. Many injuries result from ill-fitting or improperly applied equipment.

Dress properly. Jeans and a hoodie won’t cut it on the slopes. Wear layers, because your body temperature will change as you exercise at different levels of intensity. Wear a head band or hat to keep in warmth, and wear waterproof gloves. Use several layers of warm socks.

Prepare yourself for sore muscles. If you haven’t skied since last winter, you’re going to work some new muscles. Prepare for inevitable aches and pains by taking an internal pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, and applying a topical liquid pain reliever like Absorbine Jr., which penetrates muscles to help soothe pain.

Stay hydrated. Drinking water is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer. If drinking cold water sounds like torture, opt for hot tea, which can both warm and hydrate your body.

For information on Absorbine Jr. and where to find it, visit – Courtesy of NewsUSA.

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