Dr. Kurt Brooks PT, DScPT, OCS
Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
It’s January. That means snow skiing: hurling your body down a steep snow-covered hill at ridiculous speeds… awesome! Sprains, strains and sore muscles are always a part of this high-speed, quad and hamstring intensive activity. Trees, ACL tears and broken bones are also an unfortunate and sometimes disastrous part of skiing. But for the vast majority of the sport, it’s exhilarating and beautiful!
Some interesting ski injuries statistics: Most occur in men around age 40… while skiing slowly… while “ready for risk” (are about to tackle jumps or moguls)… while skiing on new equipment.
If you are planning a trip to one of these breath-taking vistas, here are some tips to avoid serious injury.
1. Get in shape BEFORE ski season starts! You need good leg and hip strength and a good core to tackle the stresses of skiing. Staying in good cardiovascular shape will also help your body adjust to the high altitudes (and thinner air). If you are not sure you are ready, visit a physical therapist who is familiar with skiing to make sure you’re flexible where you should be, strong where you should be and have the cardiovascular conditioning that you should have.
2. Even for experienced skiers, the first few runs should be on easier slopes. Just like playing football, soccer, etc., you should warm up before going out to play hard. And just like any other sport, skiing demands quick reactions, sharp turns and hard stops. Practice your cuts and stops on an easier slope before tackling those vertical ones.
3. Surprisingly, one of the more common times for ski injuries is getting on and off the lifts. Know your lift. Watch others getting on and off. And watch the direction and flow of traffic.
4. Take breaks to re-hydrate and re-fuel.
5. Gravity works! If you start to fall, or you start going too fast, sit down. Don’t fight the fall. That’s when you tear a ligament or tendon. Practice (or learn how) to fall correctly. See a ski pro learn the proper mechanics of falling in skis.
Here’s a good site to review some precautions and to see some basic pre-skiing exercises.