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Super Speeds & Daring Leaps: Preventing Injury at the Winter Olympics

Brandon J. Bryant, MD, is board-certified in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine. He is a team physician for the Washington Redskins and Washington Nationals, and is a member of the Inova Sports Medicine team.

 

Audiences around the world are gearing up for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. The Winter Olympics include some of the most exhilarating sports to watch, from lightning-speed bobsled runs to the incredible flips in aerial ski-jump competitions. Unfortunately, those dramatic performances often come with some pretty big risks.

Almost all sports carry some risk of injury. In fact, injury rates tend to be pretty similar between the Summer and Winter Olympics. But the types of injuries we see differs between the two games. In the Winter Olympics, injuries tend to be more severe.

A lot of winter sports involve high speeds, such as downhill skiing, bobsled racing and speed skating. Others feature great heights, like freestyle skiing and snowboarding events. And instead of landing on a mat or in a pool of water, winter athletes land on snow or ice. If an athlete lands wrong, it can lead to catastrophic injuries like broken bones or concussions.

Injury Prevention and Recovery

Fortunately, Olympians are well-versed in injury prevention – and we everyday athletes can learn a lot from their examples. Elite athletes keep their bodies in top form by eating right, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated. They make sure to stretch and get proper conditioning. They listen to their bodies and get checked out if something doesn’t feel quite right. Above all, they focus on controlling the factors that they can control.

No sports fan wants to see an athlete get hurt. Injuries don’t always have the last word, however. Just consider Olympic-gold-medal skier Lindsey Vonn, who is returning to the Olympics this year after missing the 2014 games because of a knee injury.

Elite athletes are actually more likely than amateurs to bounce back from a serious sports injury. To make it to the Olympics, they must be in peak physical form and have the drive and passion to push past any setbacks. Those qualities serve them well when rehabbing and recovering from injury.

Olympic athletes’ drive and determination are also what makes the Olympics so thrilling to watch. In the fight for gold, these competitors are pushing the limits of what the human body can do. They’re trying to perform better than ever before. As fans, we’re all hoping they can pull it off.

Inova Sports Medicine treats athletes and active individuals at all levels, from Little Leaguers to Olympic hopefuls. Whatever your age or activity level, our sports medicine team can help you get back to the activities you love. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bryant, call 703-970-6464.

 

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