If you plan to hit the slopes this season, it is important that you take the time to think about injury prevention. Preventing ski injuries can be simple if you follow a few important steps.
Before talking about prevention, let’s look at some of the most common ski injuries that orthopedic surgeons see in their offices during the winter and spring months.
Most Common Ski Injuries
- Shoulder dislocation: Both partial and complete shoulder dislocations can easily occur if you take a bad fall on the slopes. This can either result from attempting to break a fall with an outstretched hand or by falling directly on the shoulder with the right amount of force.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries: These injuries include strains and tears that occur from a twisting in the knee beyond the normal range of motion. Some injuries will heal from rest while others are serious enough to require surgery.
- Medial Cruciate Ligament (MCL) injuries: These injuries typically occur when the skier falls on the knee while the leg is bent. Trauma to the outside of the knee can result in a strain or tear of the MCL.
- Concussions: If you lose control as a skier, it is often difficult to prevent which way you fall as well as the traffic around you. If you do hit your head during a fall, it is important that you pay attention to signs of a concussion.
- Wrist and hand injuries: When you take a fall on the slopes, your initial reflex may be to break your fall with your hands. Unfortunately, the force applied to your wrist joint and hand can result in a serious injury such as a fracture.
- Fractures of the ankle, tibia, fibula and femur: Depending on how you fall and at what speed, a fracture to one of the bones in your lower body can be common.
- Spinal injuries: While less common, injuries to the spine resulting from a fall can be extremely serious.
With such a lengthy list of ski injuries, planing your next winter vacation can seem a little scary. But don’t despair! With a few easy tips, you can decrease the risk of cutting your day on the slopes short due to injury.
Tips for Preventing Ski Injuries
- Stay hydrated: People tend to think of dehydration as a common risk factor during summer months, But the body is easily dehydrated during any season if you are involved in physical activity. Dehydration negatively impacts your body’s endurance and physical ability. Make sure to hydrate before, during and after your time skiing.
- Wear proper equipment: Be sure that all of your ski and protective equipment fits and works properly. If you are not sure how to check your bindings, make sure to ask a professional to ensure your boots and skis are safe and fit properly. Always be sure to ear a helmet.
- Listen to your body: Don’t go on that “one last run” if you are feeling exhausted and drained. When your body is physically depleted, your are more likely to ski with poor form and sustain an injury.
- Ski with a friend: This might seem like a silly precaution but the buddy system can mean the difference in getting swift medical attention if needed and waiting in pain alone for an extended period of time.
- Fuel your body: Just as it is important to drink plenty of fluids, it is vital to keep your body strong and fueled up to promote good form and posture while skiing.
Ski injuries are very common whether you are taking it easy on the bunny slopes or hitting a black diamond. Be sure to give your body the best defense against the most common ski injuries by taking a little extra time before embarking on your fun day of snowy activity!