Alpine skiing remains one of the most popular winter sports worldwide. While skiing is known as a dangerous sport, the risk of serious injury is relatively low, at 3 injuries per 1000 skier days.1 Many injuries are due to risks a skier takes, so it is important to know common ski injuries and prevention methods.
Before hitting the slopes, it’s important to make sure you equipment is tuned and ready. Make sure the edges of your skis are sharpened and your bindings are adjusted and in good working order. Don't forget you'll need goggles and a helmet.
Now that your gear is ready, let’s get your body in top shape. Skiing requires good leg strength and core stability. When you watch higher level skiers, you’ll notice they maintain a bent knee position and their upper body stays very still and quiet. Your training should mimic these positions. A great exercise to duplicate this posture is a squat with forward arm raise.
To start, grab some light weight dumb bells or a medicine ball, and stand with your feet shoulder’s width apart. Squat down to a comfortable position while raising your arms out in front of you to shoulder height. Try to hold that position for 5-10 seconds. This will strengthen your legs and train your core to maintain its stability.
Remember to incorporate a good stretching program into your routine as well. Good flexibility in the ankles, knees, and back will allow you to keep a good forward trunk lean.
Dehydration can happen anytime, even when its 10 degrees on the mountain side. Remember to drink water and eat throughout the day. Warmup with some easy runs in the morning before hitting the double blacks. Most injuries happen late in the day due to fatigue. So listen to your body, and know when to stop and enjoy the après ski activities!!
To help prevent injury, make sure you practice these general safety tips:
Have a physical examination at the start of the season to make sure you’re healthy to ski.
Warm up and stretch before and after you ride.
Use up-to-date and properly fitting equipment. Helmets will help protect you from serious head injuries, and properly fitting boots will help prevent sprains and strains.
If you are injured, do not try to push through your injury. Always consult a medical professional before you resume skiing.
Participate in a conditioning course to strengthen your muscles, particularly ones statistically prone to injury.
Check the weather before you go skiing, and avoid skiing in conditions like rain, snowstorms, and hail.
Pay attention to the environment around you: you can evade major injuries by avoiding collisions with items on the course, like trees or poles, and other skiers or snowboarders.
Select courses that are comfortable and not too challenging for you. You are more likely to get injured on a course you are unprepared to ski.
• Shoulder dislocation
Most ski injuries occur on trails (72%) and on terrain parks (19%), while fewer occur on a ski lift (6%) and skiing off groomed trails (3%).1
Skiers most frequently injured their lower extremities, mostly their knees (42%), but also suffered injuries to the upper extremities (34%), head (15%), and spinal column (6%).1
About 75% of injuries occur by falling down or by collision with other riders.1
Most ski injuries occur at the start of the season in November and at the end of the season in April2
Skiing injuries are mostly to the knee, usually affecting the medial collateral ligament, the anterior cruciate ligament, or the meniscus (cartilage). While injuries are likely to occur in intensive sports like skiing, you can help mitigate the risks by taking preventative measures. Know the causes and symptoms of common injuries and inform a medical professional immediately if you do sustain an injury.
Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have any type of persistent pain, be sure to see a doctor.
1 “Recent Statistics on Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries,” Randal Cooper.
2 “Ski Injury Data Analysis,” Michael Henre, D.O.