If you’re a regular league curler, whether recreational or competitive, then you’re surely familiar with the aches, pains and injuries that go hand-in-hand with the sport. Joints and muscles at the knees, back and shoulders are most vulnerable to injury. The good news is that by taking the following three preventative steps, you can minimize your chances of injury and maximize your enjoyment of curling this season!

Number one on my list is proper equipment. I can guarantee that if you curl long enough you’re going to fall once or twice. Over 90% of curling injuries result from a slip and fall. If you’re on the ice with any regularity, it’s worth ditching the runners in favour of a proper gripper and slider. Beginner curlers and young curlers in particular should also consider wearing a helmet when starting out. Scary fact: when you fall, your head is the body part that’s most likely to hit the ice first!

Number two is a proper warm up. But wait, there’s a twist. You need to actually get WARM. You need to increase your heart rate and body temperature! If you think that I’m stating the obvious, just look around at all of the curlers casually chatting or gently stretching before going on the ice. These activities will only warm you up if you’re doing them on a hot beach or in a hot yoga studio. Start by running on the spot, high-knees, butt-kicks, or doing jumping jacks. Follow that up with some curling-specific stretches including the legs and trunk, and you’ll be ready to hit the ice.

My third and final tip is this: get a qualified coach to take a look at your mechanics. I remember the first time that I saw my delivery and sweeping on camera, I was shocked at how awkward I looked! I’m not saying that you’re in the same boat; you might be perfect. But you may not look as good as you think you do. If you aren’t already getting regular coaching, an instructor can provide you with some insight into your technique. Improving your delivery and sweeping by optimizing the way that you load your joints and muscles will improve your performance and prevent overuse injuries. You’ll play better, and feel better doing it!

Keep these three points in mind and with any luck you’ll make it through the curling season with little to no time missed due to injury! If you do happen to run into any issues along the way, keep in mind that a visit to a physiotherapist can help you to get back on track. Happy curling in 2016!

For more information on curling injuries, prevention and exercise, join us for a free informational talk on Tuesday, January 26th at 6:30 at Sun City’s Glenmore location. Call 250-762-6313 to reserve your seat.

Rob Heimbach is a registered physiotherapist and associate at Sun City Physiotherapy’s Glenmore clinic. He can be contacted at 250-762-6313 or email [email protected]