Tips to Avoid Common Ski Injuries This Winter
With the winter season fully upon us, bringing with it cold temperatures and fresh snow, more and more New Yorkers are flocking to the slopes to enjoy the ideal skiing conditions. Unfortunately, despite the great exercise and fun that can be had on the ski slopes, skiing can also result in a number of possible injuries.
In this blog, the fellowship-trained physicians at NY Orthopedics' Sports Medicine Center will explain some of the common ski injuries and provide tips for how to avoid them.
What are some common ski injuries?
Due to the fast-paced and full body nature of skiing, there is a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries that can occur, spanning anywhere from your hands and shoulders to your knees and ankles. Here’s a look at some of the most common ski injuries and how they are caused.
Bruising or tearing to the meniscus, the wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage that stabilize and support each knee between the thighbone and shinbone, are frequently encountered skiing injuries. Injuries to menisci may result from twisting the knee when maneuvering ski turns or from a bad landing following a jump.
ACL or MCL Ligament Injuries
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries involve the ligaments found in the front and the medial side, or inside, of the knee, respectively. These ligament injuries can range in severity from sprains to complete tears. They are both prevalent skiing injuries that commonly result from falls, twisting the knee when maneuvering a turn, or a bad landing following a jump.
An ankle sprain occurs when the foot twists, turns, or rolls beyond its normal range of motion, injuring ligaments in the ankle. It’s one of the most common ski injuries since there are many opportunities for skis to get caught and for feet to unintentionally twist in an unnatural position while skiing.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
A rotator cuff injury is an injury to the muscles or tendons that support and mobilize the shoulder. While skiing, it’s often caused by falling onto an outstretched hand (common when breaking a fall) or by falling directly onto your shoulder.
A dislocated shoulder occurs when the head of the humerus (the upper arm bone) is pushed out of its socket. Like a rotator cuff injury, this injury usually occurs as a result of either a hard fall directly on the shoulder or from falling onto an outstretched arm.
Skier’s thumb is an injury characterized by damage to the ulnar collateral ligament. It is one of the common ski injuries that occurs due to falling onto an outstretched hand while holding a ski pole.
Fractures of all types – from the clavicle and wrists to the fingers and ankles, just to name a few – can result from skiing incidents, particularly with hard falls or slipping in slick conditions.
What are some ways I can help prevent common ski injuries?
While the risk of injury is always inherent when you hit the slopes, there are a few tips to keep in mind – both practical and technical in nature – that may help you to avoid common ski injuries.
- Don’t ski when you’re tired – Falls are much more likely to occur when your muscles are fatigued, so it’s important to listen to your body and stop at the appropriate time.
- Warm up first – Warming up beforehand is an important step to avoiding injury, as cold muscles are more prone to injury than warm ones. A simple 10-15 minutes of stretching and aerobic activity prior to skiing can go a long way.
- Stay aware of your surroundings – Many injuries occur when skiers are simply not aware of changing conditions throughout the day. Changes in snow or ice conditions can alter the terrain, and unfamiliarity with this changing terrain can lead to potentially dangerous falls.
- Stay in control and maintain an active stance – It’s important to stick to the slopes that are appropriate for your skill level and always maintain an active stance while skiing. Typically a stance where your legs are bent, hands are up and your weight is evenly distributed on the balls of your feet is best.
- Tuck and roll when you fall – When falls happen, tucking and rolling is the best way to help avoid or minimize serious injuries.
- Always use proper equipment & protective gear – Before you hit the slopes, always ensure that the appropriate equipment is being used and that it’s in good working condition. Protective gear like helmets, wrist guards, and pads can mean the difference between a minor injury and something more serious, like a dislocation or fracture.
Where can I find an experienced orthopedist to treat my skiing injury in NYC?
While skiing can be a fun and exciting way to spend time in the cold this winter, skiing injuries unfortunately can and do happen. When you are facing any type of skiing injury, it’s important to see a top orthopedic specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
NY Orthopedics’ team of experienced fellowship-trained physicians is dedicated to treating active patients of all ages. Whether you’re a beginner or an elite skier training for your next competition, if you have suffered from a skiing injury, we are here to provide compassionate and expert care. You can get started by requesting an appointment at one of our numerous practice locations in the New York City area.