It’s almost ski and snowboard season. Are you ready to get back on the hill? Here are a few tips to keep you injury free this winter:

Prepare your body for the season

One of the biggest mistakes that skiers and snowboarders make is jumping right back into the sport after an off-season of not much physical activity. If you spent most of the summer counting down the days until you could get back out onto the slopes and not doing much else, it’s a good idea to ease back into the sport. Don’t start with an entire day at the ski hill; this will stress the muscles that you haven’t used since last winter and that could lead to injury (the last thing that you want on week one of the season.)

Wear the proper protective gear

A helmet is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you can take to the ski hill. Head injuries are, unfortunately, common among skiers and snowboarders. In fact, according to recent studies, they account for about 20% of all skiing and snowboarding injuries. Wearing a helmet will go a long way in ensuring that you don’t end up in that boat. Additionally, a lot of skiers and snowboarders wear body armor for extra protection, and ensuring that your bindings and skis or board fit you properly will help to prevent injury as well.

Be aware of common injuries for skiers and snowboarders

If you know the injuries that skiers and snowboarders commonly sustain, you’ll be better equipped to identify those injuries if they pop up. For skiers, ACL and hand injuries are common. Snowboarders are more likely to injure their wrist or ankle and frequently suffer from shoulder dislocations. Both skiers and snowboarders can fall victim to lower back, knee, and muscle strains and pulls.

If you do get injured, take the time to let yourself heal properly

If you do end up sustaining an injury, make sure that you take the time to let your body heal. It might be hard—especially after a summer of waiting to get back on the slopes—but letting your injury heal in the right way will allow you to enjoy more of the winter ski and snowboard season.