Skiing and snowboarding are two popular winter activities that attract millions of visitors to ski slopes every season. As with any physical activity, injury can occur, with the most common areas injured while skiing being the knees, shoulders, and wrists. Although injuries to the back, head, and rest of the body are not uncommon. However, the risk of injury should not prevent you from either trying to ski for the first time or returning each season. Below are some helpful tips to prevent injury and keep you on the slopes all season long.
Regular Exercise. Every great ski season starts with great preparation. Many skiing accidents and injuries result from fatigue on the slopes. Help prevent fatigue by maintaining a good off season aerobic and muscle building exercise routine to build up your stamina and strength.
Warm-up. Ski lifts and gondolas are great for getting to the top of your run, but not so much when you’re just starting your day. Make sure your muscles and body are ready to tackle your day by starting with a light warm-up. This can take many forms such as starting your day with a slow easy run or 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretches like lunges, squats, arm circles, butt-kicks, etc. Just make sure to warm-up all your muscle groups prior to starting your day.
Equipment. Proper equipment is essential to avoiding injury. Make sure your boots and bindings are appropriately sized, set, and follow American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. Wear several layers of light, breathable, water and wind resistant clothing to help regulate your body temperature and protect yourself from the elements. Always wear a ski helmet to prevent major head injuries. Helmets are not universal, so make sure to wear a ski/snowboard specific helmet.
Hydrate. Dehydration can lead to fatigue which can lead to accidents and injuries on the mountain. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after you hit the slopes.
Know Your Abilities. Heading to the top of the mountain and hitting that double black diamond is great but is also a great way to injure yourself if it’s outside of your abilities. Be smart and stick to the runs and terrain you are confident on and work slowly to progress to more difficult terrain. A great way to advance your skills and help avoid injury is to take a ski lesson to help you better understand your abilities and ways to stay safe on the mountain.
Follow Safety Rules. Always be sure to follow all marked safety signs and stay within the skiable bounds of the mountain. Also be sure to be aware of your fellow skiers. You may be able to bomb down that green run, but never know when other skiers might take an unexpected turn or stop.
Injuries happen, but hopefully by following these guidelines they can be avoided. However, if you are injured and require the help of a medical professional, The Denver Spine and Pain Institute’s team of physicians, advanced practice providers, and physical therapists offer the most up-to-date treatment techniques to decrease pain and get you back out on the slopes.
Alaia M. Skiing Injury Prevented. OrthoInfo. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/skiing-injury-prevention/. Last Reviewed December 2019.
Davey A, Endres NK, Johnson RJ, Shealy JE. Alpine Skiing Injuries. Sports Health. 2019 Jan/Feb;11(1):18-26. doi: 10.1177/1941738118813051. PMID: 30782106; PMCID: PMC6299353.
Industry Stats. National Ski Areas Association. https://www.nsaa.org/NSAA/Media/Industry_Stats.aspx.
Most Common Ski Injuries and How to Avoid Them. EA Ski & Snowboard Training. https://easkiandsnowboard.com/resources/latest-news/most-common-ski-injuries-and-how-to-avoid-them/. November 14, 2019.
Written by Jacob Mcleerey, OMS-IV and edited by Dr. Trainor
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