Are you heading to the slopes this year? If you are, make sure you are prepared! While injuries aren’t as common as you might expect, they tend to occur by either falling down or losing control. In fact, statistics suggest 75% occur this way with only 8% caused during a collision with other skiers or riders. The most common injury area for skiers was to the leg (42%), mostly to the knee. Medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are on the rise and now make up about 30% of all skiing injuries. Bare in mind that both ligaments, particularly the ACL, are crucial to stabilise the knee joint. So how do you prevent these injuries?
MCLs are typically torn when the ski’s are in snowplow, i.e. slowing down or stopping and there is a fall. Unsurprisingly MCL injuries are most common among beginners. This type of fall can be prevented by being sensible about the runs you choose to tackle. Remember to keep your weight central on the skis when snowplow-ing! Futhermore, ACLs are often torn when landing with your weight back over your heels, as this pushes the back of the ski boot into the calf and during landing, the force can tear the ACL. Preventing ACL tears is essential, because they can need surgical repair, putting an end to your skiing season. Landing with your weight forward is a must. Skiers can also damage their ACL when trying to prevent a fall by placing all of their weight on one ski and turning their torso away from this leg as they fall. Never try to stand during a fall, instead allow it to happen.
There are also steps you can take before you hit the slopes. Your fitness is crucial to avoid injury. Make sure you have done some cardio a month or so (or ideally sooner and more regularly) before you ski. Nobody wants DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) after their first day of skiing. It can totally ruin your week! Consider cycling or hill walking. Resistance training to strengthen your muscles is also excellent preparation. Squats and lunges help to build the big leg and hip muscles (hamstrings, quadriceps and gluts). Also think about exercises for your core to stabilise you whilst skiing. How about plank or side plank to activate the key abdominal muscles?
Above all when you are on the slopes check your technique (weight forward with bent hips, knees and ankles and legs parallel). If you aren’t sure you are getting it right, perhaps try some lessons with a pro. Ensure your equipment fits properly, particularly your ski boots, and always wear a helmet. Remember if you are tired take time to enjoy the après scene. Injuries are way more likely without regular rest.
If you are unlucky enough to experience a skiing injury why not visit our website www.physiolab.com to find out how cooling and compression can reduce any pain and swelling.