Avoid These Common Skiing Injuries This Season
Skiing is a popular winter sport that can be great fun and a good source of exercise for people of all ages. However, research out of Johns Hopkins estimates that every year over 600,000 people are injured while skiing in North America. That’s why it’s important to take precautions before, during, and after you hit the slopes. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common skiing injuries and how you can prevent them.
Common Skiing Injuries
While some conditions can affect all skiers indiscriminately, such as frostbite, other injuries are more commonly associated with your level of ability. Beginners are more likely to suffer strains and sprains from falls due to their lack of skiing technique, whereas intermediate and advanced skiing injuries tend to involve more serious trauma, such as ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears, meniscus tears, shoulder dislocations, fractures, and other ligament issues. Advanced skiers often encounter more traumatic skiing injuries, such as ACL and MCL ligament tears, from skiing turns at high speeds, or even concussions due to falling on hard-packed snow.
How to Prevent Ski Injuries
There are a number of different things you can do to protect your body from injury on a ski day from before you hit the slopes to after you complete your final run. Each phase of your day is equally important in preventing ski injury, so remember to keep all of the below tips in mind!
Before You Hit the Slopes
It’s important to dress appropriately, according to skiing weather conditions. This includes wearing breathable, layered clothing, as well as water-resistant outerwear. The National Ski Patrol recommends that all skiers wear helmets to help reduce the risk of head trauma, regardless of their skiing ability. In addition to protecting your head from a potential concussion or other trauma, wearing a helmet also keeps your head warm, which is important for maintaining body heat while exposed to the elements during a day on the slopes.
Along with dressing appropriately, it is essential to wear sunscreen and effective eyewear while skiing. When you’re on the slopes, you’re especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun because the sun’s rays reflect off of the white snow much more than other, darker surfaces, resulting in more solar radiation. Sunscreen protects your skin from UV rays, which can cause sunburn even on frigid winter days. Protective eyewear or goggles prevents sun damage to your eyes and increases your visibility while on the slopes, which can make for a more fun time skiing and also reduce the risk of injury related to poor visibility.
It is also important to ensure you have well-fitting equipment before you head out. Ill-fitting boots, skis, or poles can not only make your experience less enjoyable, but can hinder your performance and control, and thus increase your risk of injury.
Engaging in warm-up exercises before skiing can also reduce the chance of sustaining skiing injuries, as you give your body an opportunity to prepare for motions it may not have performed in a while. An ideal pre-ski warm up includes squats and wall sits, balance activities, and other agility exercises.
Preventing Injury While Skiing
Knowing basics like how to properly stop on skis or fall safely can help you stay safe on the slopes. If you are new to skiing, consider taking a lesson to ensure you know how to effectively stop before advancing to more challenging techniques or runs.
It is important to obey posted signs and to ski carefully. This means skiing in appropriate terrain according to your skiing experience. While you’re skiing, be sure to keep an eye out for snowboarders and other skiers to avoid potential collisions as well. Furthermore, making sure that all of your bindings are fastened correctly will enable you to ski in control and obey posted signs to slow down or stop.
Just like any other physical activity, skiing can cause muscle fatigue, so it’s important to stretch throughout the day to prevent skiing injuries and soreness. Additionally, staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day can help your body increase blood flow and function to support you on the slopes.
Staying Safe for Après Ski
After skiing for the day, take a few minutes to do some gentle stretches and cool off your body. Walking around after removing your ski boots is a great way to relax and stretch out your leg and foot muscles.
You’ll also want to refuel with high-quality nutrients including protein and carbohydrates. Eating a snack soon after skiing will help restore lost energy and support muscular health.
Additionally, apply ice to any body parts that feel sore or swollen from skiing in order to reduce inflammation and further prevent any potential injuries. As an extra precaution, you can wear compression clothing made with breathable fabric when you sleep, as this will improve blood circulation throughout your body.
Treatments for Skiing Injuries
Treatments for skiing injuries correspond to the injury sustained. Minor injuries may be treated with ice, elevation, and rest. More serious injuries may still be treated with non-invasive techniques such as physical therapy or semi-rigid braces; these can help get the patient back on the slopes quickly while protecting their injury from further damage. Acute injuries like ACL and meniscus tears may require ACL reconstruction surgery or meniscectomy and meniscus repair to mend.
Whatever the injury, if you are experiencing pain after skiing, we recommend being evaluated as soon as possible. Research shows that early intervention often results in fewer surgeries and a quicker return to physical activity.
Dr. Goradia of G2 Orthopedics in Richmond, Virginia, is an alpine ski enthusiast and is experienced with treating orthopedic ski injuries from sprains and strains to more complex meniscus and ACL tears. If you recently went skiing and believe you suffered an injury on the slopes, call (804) 678-9000 or complete the form today to request your appointment and get the relief you need to get back in motion.