Skiing Related Injuries
Winter is finally here and with it the 2011-2012 ski season. Even with the increased popularity of alternative winter sports such as snowboarding, skiboarding, on-piste telemark skiing, alpine skiing remains the most popular snow sport by far. Approximately two thirds of all people on the ski slopes this year will be alpine skiers.
When you hit the slopes, it is important to recognize the risks of injury associated with a very physically-taxing sport such as alpine skiing. Skiing is a high velocity sport with significant amounts of twisting, rotating, and sudden stopping, all of which can result in injury. Over 75% of ski injuries result in a fracture or sprain—mainly in the legs and knees.
There are several factors that contribute to a person sustaining a ski injury:
Ski conditions. Accidents and injury are more likely to occur when weather conditions are poor, with low visibility, high winds, or icy-blizzard conditions.
Equipment. A beginner skier who does not own his own equipment must rely on rental equipment, which can lead to problems with size and fit. Properly adjusted bindings along with ill-fitting boots, skis, poles, and whatnot all contribute to accidents and injury.
Athleticism. Reports of injuries are more common early in the ski season when skiers are out of practice. To a new skier who hasn’t developed the muscles associated with the sport or to an advanced skier who simply hasn’t kept in shape, the risk of injury is greater. Speed is a major cause of injury in skiing—especially when the skier is out of shape. A movement that might not otherwise cause injury is significantly more dangerous at the high speed seen on alpine runs.
Knee injuries are by far the most prevalent injuries, accounting for approximately one third of all ski-related injuries. Among Knee injuries, damage to the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) is the most common skiing injury. This occurs when the lower leg twists outwards relative to the thigh, putting pressure on the MCL. While common, MCL injuries are often not serious as they tend to occur to beginner skiers who lack the strength and speed of more advanced skiers.
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury is a far more serious injury that occurs when a traumatic force is applied to the knee in a twisting movement forcing hyperextension. This occurs most usually when skiers land jumps, ski moguls, or during twisting falls. This type of injury is usually sustained by more advanced skiers who ski at high speeds; although a novice skier could sustain an ACL injury if his or her bindings don’t release during a fall, even at low speeds.
The most important factor in keeping yourself injury-free is to make sure you are ready for the slope when ski season starts.
1. Keep yourself in good shape throughout the year by participating in different sports and maintaining a general conditioning routine. Additionally, you should remember to warm up and cool down properly by spending a few minutes stretching your muscles before and after your day on the slopes.
2. Follow all safety protocol on the ski slopes, including skiing on runs that match your fitness and skill level, wearing proper safety equipment, and making sure that all your equipment fits properly.
3. Recognize when you need a rest—the majority of accidents and injuries occur after lunchtime when tiredness sets in for skiers. Taking a longer break and being aware of your energy levels could save you from injury.
The most important thing you can do if you injure yourself while on the slopes is to get in to see an Orthopedic doctor immediately. The sooner you start therapy, the more like you are to have a successful and full recovery.