Tips to prevent and manage ski injuries
Your risk of ski injury may be lower than you imagine. Fortunately, due to improvements in ski equipment and slope design, the overall rate of ski injuries has reduced since the 1970s by about 50% and has remained the same for the last 5 years.
Currently, for every 1000 people skiing on any particular day, 2 will sustain an injury that needs medical attention. However, novice ski-ers can be more at risk, due to inadequate preparation and not having enough knowledge of how to use equipment and be safe on the slopes.
Here are some top-tips to avoid ski injury and what to do if unfortunately you do become injured.
Tips to avoid ski injury:
1. Prepare – tone-up + take lessons
Spend at least 6 weeks developing your leg and core muscle strength, general fitness, balance and agility. Take ski lessons to improve your technique and give you specific ski muscle conditioning.
2. Set your skis and bindings correctly
Skiers that use bindings and skis which are set incorrectly are 8 times more likely to get injured. When fitting equipment, choose a certified ski-shop and be accurate about your weight and ability.
3. Keep safe on the slopes
Many of the patients we see in clinic have been injured in a collision. Collisions cause 11-20% of all ski injuries. Some of them could be prevented by staying safe on the slopes:
- Stop in a safe place for you and others
- Stay in control
- When starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield to others
- Obey signs designating slow zones and intersecting areas
See ‘Your Responsibility Code’
4. Wear a helmet
There are some myths surrounding disadvantages of using helmets in skiing. These are not backed up by the current literature, which strongly supports the use of helmets to reduce the severity of head injuries.
5. Stay off alcohol at lunchtime
Alcohol slows your reaction times and will increase your risk of injury.
6. Take a rest day
You are at a higher risk of injury on the afternoon of your third day because muscle fatigue peaks at this time. So take a rest and enjoy your beautiful surroundings!
Tips if you get injured whilst abroad:
1. Stop skiing
2. Seek advice from a medical professional immediately after an injury
Get a diagnosis, determine the severity of injury and seek guidance about how best to treat the injury.
3. Follow ‘PRICE’
- Protect your injury from further damage, by using a support
- Rest for the first 2-3 days
- Ice: wrap a cold compress or frozen peas in a towel and ice the area for about 15 minutes every 2-3 hours. Do not put ice directly on the skin
- Compression: use a compressive bandage to limit movement but don’t leave it on whilst you are sleeping
- Elevation: support and elevate the area a little above the level of your heart
4. Avoid ‘HARM’
- Heat - can increase swelling, so avoid hot baths
- Alcohol - can increase bleeding and swelling
- Running or excess exercise - can cause further damage
- Massage - can increase swelling and bleeding
Common ski injuries we see in the clinic:
1. Knee Injuries
- Knee Injuries are the most common type of ski injury, often caused by twisting injuries. We most commonly treat damage to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
2. Skiers Elbow
- This results in the same symptoms as tennis-elbow, but has a different cause. The sustained muscle contraction needed for gripping ski poles can affect the point where these muscles attach at the elbow.
Physiotherapy Services at ALO:
If you are preparing for a ski-trip, come for a Physiotherapy ski-training session at ALO, where we will set you up with a programme of exercises designed to help you to make the most of your ski trip and avoid injury.
If unfortunately you do get injured and you would like Physiotherapy treatment; at ALO we offer:
- Rehabilitative exercise programmes
- Electrotherapy: Human Tecar Therapy, Ultrasound
- Manual Therapy and Soft tissue techniques