The Rise of Recovery and Training in Extreme Sports

With the rapidly increasing popularity of extreme sports, kids and young adults alike have been flocking to the slopes, skate parks and dirt tracks at an unprecedented rate. Instead of trying out for “organized school sports” these individuals are inventing their own sports and events as they go. We are in the infancy of transitioning extreme sports into the realm of legitimate team and individual sports, and the rules for safety & sports medicine haven’t always been able to keep up.

With the representation of extreme sports at the Olympics and other big name venues like the X-Games or even the Red Bull Signature Series, it would seem logical that there would be a host of rules pertaining to the two easiest ways to manage safety, equipment and proper treatment before, during and after the event.  Whether it’s a snowboarder twisting 20 feet above the half pipe, a Crashed Ice competitor toppling over his opponents going 40 MPH on skates, a skateboarder doing a nose-grind down a 15-foot railing, or a parkour practitioner gaping a building, extreme activities provide the potential for just as many, if not more injuries, than their traditional counterparts. This increase in risk should equate to a raised awareness of safety regulations and athletic medicine geared towards these sports.

There are a few simple ways to manage and prevent injuries that should be incorporated into extreme sports. All traditional sports incorporate weight training and cross training into their preseason and off season programs. Without proper conditioning and strength, athletes will be unable to hold up to the rigorous demands of yearlong extreme sports. Proper warm up and cool down is also essential. Even though extreme sports may not seem to need flexibility as much as traditional sports, that could not be further from the truth. With the speeds they are traveling and hitting the grounds at, any misstep and they put their body parts in positions that could strain or tear muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Adding stretching and other flexibility training such as yoga into their programs decreases this risk.

Lastly, decreasing inflammation is imperative to maintaining healthy joints in any activity. Inflammation occurs after any workout, and the harder the workout, the more inflammation is produced. The best way to decrease inflammation is to compress and ice. I, personally, believe ice baths are the best non-medicinal anti-inflammatory cooling, providing 360-degree coverage of the entire joint and lowering the intramuscular temperature more than any other technique. However, ice baths don’t provide compression and you shouldn’t move while you’re in one. For a portable way to ice and compress, Dr. Cool Recovery Wraps provide nearly 360-degree icing coverage, while having the added benefit of compression. Additionally, they can be used for ice compression during sporting events to combat inflammation as it happens.

It is clear that extreme sports are going to continue to become more extreme as these athletes push the boundaries of gravity and their bodies. However, there is much work to be done on the part of the parents and the coaches to mandate increased injury management and prevention for these sports. Backed by the scientific research already performed in the conventional sports, extreme sports can institute tougher training, rehabilitative programs and injury management regulations and continue to push the limits of human abilities.


Dr. David Holmes
Board Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician