A DORCHESTER hospital is warning people to make sure they prepare effectively if they are inspired to hit the ski slopes by the Winter Olympics.

BMI The Winterbourne Hospital has issued advice to anyone hoping to follow in the footsteps of bronze medallist Jenny Jones and the rest of Team GB in Sochi to help them avoid injury.

Orthopaedic surgeon Ian Barlow said that, with more people expected to take up winter sports or return after a lengthy absence, he is concerned about people not preparing properly and putting themselves at risk of injury.

His warning comes after a survey by BMI Healthcare revealed 70 per cent of orthopaedic surgeons and physiotherapists see an increase in sports injuries during the winter months.

Mr Barlow said: “During the winter there is certainly a rise in the number of patients presenting with sports-related injuries here at BMI The Winterbourne Hospital.

“The vast majority of winter sports injuries involve fractures and ligament injuries around the knee.

“Other winter sports injuries are as a result of bodies making contact with hard winter surfaces, like ice or hard-packed snow, and involve the shoulder, wrist and hand.”

He added: “Television shows and international sporting tournaments especially, can influence and inspire us.

“I have no doubt that amateur sportsmen and women will venture to the slopes and the ice rinks this winter having been inspired or motivated by the heroes of the snow and ice.

“However, if people have been inactive or they haven’t prepared their muscles or stepped up fitness levels they could well be at risk.”

Mr Barlow also urged people to make sure they have the correct equipment, including helmets, which is properly fitted.

He added that people can always consult their GP, who can offer guidance about their suitability to take up their chosen sport.

Physiotherapist at the hospital Sarah Pearce stressed the need for people to build up their fitness levels before setting off on a skiing holiday.

She said: “Reasonable fitness levels are vital for any intensive activity.

“Being at a good fitness level before you begin any winter sport is important and I would recommend working on fitness for anyone about to take up something like skiing or snowboarding.”