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Avoid early ski season injury

Winter is just around the corner and what best way to prepare for winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding and sledding is to be mindful of some common ski injuries and prevention measures. 

It is a skier’s and snowboarder’s worst nightmare to start the winter season with an injury. It mostly comes down to your ability and the weather conditions. Whether you are skiing somewhere in northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, or at high elevations as in Colorado, Utah, Montana or even Alaska, you must be comfortable in your surroundings, especially the slopes. Also, knowing what type of weather you will be skiing in is very helpful in predicting what injuries you are likely to sustain:

  • Deep snow – leads to more knee injuries
  • Harder packed snow – leads to bone fractures
  • Heavy wet snow – leads to anterior cruciate ligament tears (ACL) in the knee

These conditions are linked to hard landings which are very tough on the knees and other serious injuries can lead to bone fractures. Here are some tips on how to best prevent a possible season ender in early December:

-          Preseason conditioning is vital. Make sure you have a good, solid core do a daily exercise regimen a good month or more before the ski season even begins;

-          Have your ski equipment checked regularly by using a reputable agency / company;

-          Get properly fitted for your skis and/or snowboard (longer skis may be more difficult to turn and bindings that are set too high are more likely to cause unnecessary injury, your boots should have a snug fit; do not be afraid to ask questions and if the equipment does not feel right on your body). The ski shop, should take the time to fit the equipment properly; they should ask about your height, weight and ski ability level;

-          Never borrow from your family or friends, each person is different and your personal ski equipment (skis, boots, poles, goggles, pants, jacket, gloves, etc.)  is specifically chosen and adjusted for your body type and level of experience;

-          Follow posted procedures and illustrative maps. Each ski area has designated slopes and its own specific instructions and level of difficulty, etc.;

-          Start of with gentle or beginner slopes: this is a good warm-up technique and you can make a day of it or go down the gentle slope 3-5 times before you hit your targeted, more difficult slopes;

-          Always check the down slope traffic – if the slopes are congested this means you can collide with other skiers and injuries can range from concussions to broken bones and torn ligaments;

-          Do not attempt “big tricks” right away. Unless you are a year-round rider, go slow on your first day of the season;

-          Always spend a few minutes warming up and cooling down by gently stretching your hamstrings, thigh muscles, hips, calves and arms before and after going on the slopes. 

Overall, skiers are prone to the twisting effect that causes knee injuries. On the other hand, snowboarders are more at risk of head and writs injuries. All riders are prone to some type of accident and injury.

Morici, Figlioli and Associates not only helps those who have been seriously injured, but also helps to prevent injuries through the Community Safety Forum videos, as well as through short articles, such as this one.

Further reading:  Here are some of our previous articles on knee injuries:

Personal Injury Anatomy of the Knee

Dashboard Knee Injuries

Meniscus Tear- A Common Knee Injury

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