While skiing and snowboarding are two of the world’s most popular winter sports, they are also two of the most dangerous. Since skiers can reach speeds anywhere from 25 to 45 miles per hour, injuries are an almost an inevitable part of the sport. In fact, over 200,000 injuries required treatment in a doctors office or hospital as the result of skiing and snowboarding-related activities in 2014.
Knee Ligament Strains & Tears
Your ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (medial collateral ligament) are some of the most at-risk areas of the body for tears while skiing. The ACL helps to ensure the shin doesn’t move too far forward. The MCL keeps your knee from bending inward. Both of these ligaments can be injured when one or both of your legs have a great amount of pressure placed on them at an unnatural angle.
How to Prevent ACL & MCL Injuries
In the weeks or months leading up to ski season, work on your leg strength. Squats and wall-sits are a great way to work all of the important muscles in your leg.
When on the slopes, be sure to not spread your legs too wide while skiing. If you start falling, do not straighten or tense your legs, and, if you do fall, wait until you have come to a complete stop before trying to get up.
Back injuries can be separated into two categories: muscle injuries and bone injuries. Back muscle injuries may occur while hunching in an unnatural position, straining from trying to avoid a fall or simply skiing on bumpy terrain. Bone injuries are much more serious and can occur when falling or making impact with a stationary object.
How to Avoid Back Injuries
To avoid muscle injuries in your back, preparation is key. In the time leading up to ski season, do back strengthening exercises. Also be sure to stretch and warm up before hitting the slopes.
When you fall, your natural reaction will be to extend your arms and try to lessen the impact. Depending on the speed you’re going and the density of the snow you’re falling on, you are putting yourself at risk for a wrist fracture, or at the very least a wrist sprain.
How to Prevent Wrist Fractures
When falling, you will try to brace for impact in some way, but try to avoid the instinct to tense your body and limbs. When your body is relaxed, it more evenly distributes the impact.
If you are a beginner and think you may take a few falls, you can also buy wrist braces in your local ski shop.
Approximately 10 percent of ski injuries come from skier’s thumb, but most people have never even heard of it! When a skier falls with a ski pole in their hand, the pole can catch on the ground and bend the thumb too far outward. This can sprain or rupture the tendon that moves the thumb back and forth.
How to Prevent It
When you ski, avoid putting your hands into the ski pole loops if possible. This will make it easier for you to let go of the pole in the event of a fall. Some ski gloves also have thumb stabilizers that help protect your thumb’s ligaments.