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Safety tips for skiers, snowboarders

If you plan on hitting the slopes this winter, here are some professional tips to keep you safe and active.

January 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Southern California mountains are packed with record snow, and for many locals the chair lift can't move fast enough.If you plan on hitting the slopes, it's a good idea to start working out your legs.

"In particularly the quadriceps because most of our skiing is done with the thighs and the hips," said Dr. Tom Vangsness, who runs the University of Southern California's sports medicine program.

Vangsness also advises to be precise when it comes to bindings.

"Make sure they're set by your height and weight and be appropriate with that, don't cheat on your weight," he said. "You don't want to cheat that because you're only hurting yourself."

Vangsness also recommends skiing with a helmet, but without iPod ear buds.

"It's just like the runners who are running in the street without the sense of hearing," he said. "You're more apt to get injured. No more is that evident than on the ski slopes."

Skiers often injure knees, but snowboarding injuries can be even worse.

"With snowboarders, it tends to be concussions, closed traumas," Vangsness said.

If you do fall, Vangsness recommends ice packs, not heat packs.

"Always ice for 48 to 72 hours. That decreases the swelling," Vangsness said.