When the temperature hits 32 degrees, one of the most popular sports during this time of the year is skiing. Although it offers you a surge of adrenaline and endorphin, making a wrong move or not preparing your body for this activity can lead to serious musculoskeletal injuries. This is why it is very important to be aware of these ski injuries, their causes, and how to avoid them.
Common Ski Injuries
Your shoulders and knees are highly susceptible to injuries from downhill skiing. With the fast-paced nature of this sport, a bad fall or a strong impact from jumps can cause tears or dislocations to these delicate areas.
Knee Ligament Injuries
Your knee has ligaments that keep it stable while allowing it to rotate for mobility. Stopping suddenly, and landing improperly from a jump can all result to injuries to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). This is the ligament found in the middle portion of the knee that keeps the joint stable.
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injury can also occur when a strong force hits the outside of your knee while skiing. The injury may vary from mild sprains to a more severe condition such as a complete tear in the ligament.
Shoulder Dislocations and Rotator Cuff Injuries
If you fall hard on your shoulder or keep your arm outstretched while falling, shoulder dislocations can occur. When this happens, the humerus or upper arm bone is forcefully pushed out and removed from its socket. A similar movement during skiing can also result to a rotator cuff injury, which limits the mobility of your shoulder.
The meniscus is a wedge-shaped disk that supports and cushions your knee. Tears to the meniscus are often caused by a forceful twisting movement when making rapid ski turns or hard landing. A popping sound may be heard originating around the knee when the meniscus is torn.
How to Avoid Ski Injuries
As with any intense physical activity, you can prevent a ski injury by following certain precautions and techniques. Here are some ways to help you enjoy skiing without causing trauma to your body.
1. Prepare yourself before skiing.
If you have not skied for a long time, it is best to prepare your body before you engage in this activity. Do some conditioning exercises at least 6 weeks prior to skiing such as isometric wall squats, lunges, and brisk walking for about 30 minutes to strengthen your knees and leg muscles.
2. Perform warm-up exercises.
Cold muscles are susceptible to injury, so it is best to perform simple stretching exercises before you ski. Devote at least 15 minutes for these warm up exercises to prepare and condition your body.
3. Know the ice or snow conditions and be aware of your skill level.
Check the condition of the snow before you head out since this can change the terrain. If you are unfamiliar with the snow condition, dangerous falls can occur. Moreover, avoid pushing yourself to the limits and stick to the slopes suitable to your level.
4. Fall the right way.
If you fall, make it a point to do it the right way. Pull your limbs in towards the torso. This will prevent you from dislocating your shoulder or straining your knee when you fall from a jump.
Be sure to use protective equipment before you ski. Pads, helmets, and wrist guards can spare you from a minor or serious ski injury. If you have a previous knee injury, you should consult your doctor for recommendations on the appropriate bracing to stabilize the joint and prevent fractures or dislocations.
Dr. Jeffrey L. Halbrecht is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in arthroscopic surgery and sports medicine.
With his years of professional experience and skill in these fields, he can provide the most effective treatment to sports injuries for your quick recovery. He and his team at the Institute of Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine (IASM) can get you back in shape through the latest techniques in sports medicine and orthopedic surgery.
Call IASM today at 415-923-0944 or use our online form.