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Top 10 Skiing Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Skiing is a popular winter sport that can be great fun but can also be dangerous. Each year, many people suffer from skiing injuries, from minor scrapes and bruises to more severe injuries, such as fractures.

The good news is that most of these skiing injuries are preventable. Here is a list of the most common ski injuries and some tips on how to avoid them:


1. Knee Injuries including Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears:

One of the most common skiing injuries, the knee is especially vulnerable to injury in skiing because of its many ligaments and tendons.

Severe knee injuries, such as Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) tears and Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears are common in skiing, often due to the twisting motion of the knee joint when turning during skiing.

To help prevent a knee injury, it’s important to:

- Warm up before skiing

- Strengthen the muscles around the knee with exercises like squats and lunges

- Use proper technique when turning

If you suffer a knee injury this ski season, it’s important to seek medical attention and follow the instructions of your doctor. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may include physical therapy and/or surgery.


2. Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are another of the most common skiing injuries, due to the repetitive motions of the arms while pushing off from one ski to another.

Shoulder joint injuries can range from minor strains to dislocated shoulders, depending on how severe the impact is.

To reduce your risk of shoulder injury:

  1. Keep your arms close to your body when skiing

  2. Wear a snug-fitting jacket that does not inhibit arm movement

  3. Practice balancing on one leg and pushing off with your other foot for stability

Shoulder injuries should be treated immediately to avoid further damage. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may include physical therapy and/or surgery.


3. Wrist Injuries

Wrist sprains can occur when your hands are gripping the ski pole too tightly. The repeated motion of the wrists when pushing off from one ski to another can cause pain and swelling in the wrist joint.

To avoid injury, it’s important to:

  1. Wear gloves with padding on them for extra protection

  2. Take breaks regularly while skiing

  3. Use proper technique when turning

If you suffer a wrist injury, the healing process could include immobilisation, physical therapy and possibly surgery. As with any injury, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure that the best treatment plan is implemented.


4. Ankle Injuries

Ankle sprains are common in skiing, especially due to the twisting and turning that is done on the slopes. Poorly fitting boots can also contribute to ankle injuries because they do not provide enough support.

To reduce your risk of ankle injury:

  1. Make sure you have the right size boots that fit snugly and provide good support

  2. Do balance exercises on one leg before skiing to help increase ankle stability

  3. Use proper technique when turning

If you do suffer an ankle injury, get it checked out by a doctor right away. Treatment may involve

immobilisation or physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage.


5. Head Injuries

Head injuries can range from mild concussions to more serious head trauma, such as skull fractures.

Head protection is essential in skiing, and helmet use should be mandatory for everyone. Head injuries can be caused by falls, hitting trees or other objects.

To avoid a head injury it’s also important to:


Wear goggles or sunglasses with UV protection to reduce the risk of eye injury

  1. Ski within your ability level

  2. Avoid skiing on icy surfaces

If you suffer a head injury, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Treatment may include rest and medication for mild concussions, or surgery for more serious trauma.


6. Spinal Injuries

Spinal injuries can occur when a person falls while skiing and hits their back, neck, or head. These types of trauma can result in permanent paralysis and other life-altering disabilities.

To reduce your risk of spinal injury:

  1. Wear protective padding around the back and waist to provide additional support

  2. Don’t ski beyond your skill level

  3. Always take breaks if you’re feeling tired or sore

If you suffer a spinal injury, seek medical attention right away. Treatment may involve immobilisation in a brace or cast to protect the spine while it heals, followed by physical therapy and possibly surgery.


7. Foot Injuries

Foot injuries are common in skiing due to the fact that the boots used for skiing don’t always provide adequate support. Poorly fitting boots can cause blisters and strains, while incorrect technique on the slopes can lead to sprains and fractures.

To reduce your risk of foot injury:

  1. Wear well-fitting ski boots that provide good ankle and arch support

  2. Practice proper technique when turning

  3. Take regular breaks during your ski session

If you suffer a foot injury, it’s important to get it checked out. Rest the foot and look after it until you can seek medical advice. If treatment is necessary, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions and give the foot the time it needs to heal.


Once you are recovered, you can resume skiing, but take it easy and be aware of any pain or discomfort that may occur.


8. Thumb injuries

Avid skiers can suffer various thumb injuries due to the repetitive use of ski poles. Thumb injuries can range from mild to severe, such as a dislocation or fracture. 'Skier's thumb' is a common injury caused by falling while holding the ski poles, resulting in ligament damage to the thumb.

To reduce your risk of thumb injury:

- Wear gloves with padding for extra protection

- Use proper technique when gripping the poles

- Take regular breaks during your ski session


If you suffer a thumb injury, it’s important to get it looked at by a doctor. Treatment may include splinting and physical therapy, as well as possible surgery depending on the severity of the injury.


9. Shin Splints

Shin splints are caused by overuse of the leg muscles and tendons due to frequent pushing off from one ski to another. They can be very painful and limit a skier’s ability to perform at their best on the slopes.

To help prevent shin splints:

  1. Warm up before skiing

  2. Wear good-fitting boots that provide proper ankle support

  3. Make sure the ski bindings are not too tight on the leg

If you experience shin splints, you should seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may involve rest, compression, and icing the area to reduce inflammation. Physical therapy can also help you regain strength in your legs and prevent further injury.


10. Fractured collarbone

Fractured collarbones are a common skiing injury and can occur when the skier falls and lands on their shoulder or upper arm. It’s important to wear protective padding around the chest area to help prevent this type of injury.

To reduce your risk of a fractured collarbone:

  1. Wear properly fitting ski jackets that provide ample protection

  2. Avoid skiing too fast on icy surfaces

  3. Practice proper technique when turning

If you suffer a fractured collarbone, seek medical attention right away. Treatment may involve immobilisation in a brace or cast to protect the collarbone while it heals, followed by physical therapy and possibly surgery.


Conclusion


As a high-risk sport, injuries happen to even the most experienced skiers. Being aware of the most common ski injuries and how to prevent them can help reduce your risk of injury and ensure you have a safe and enjoyable skiing experience.


Always remember to wear the right equipment, practice proper technique, and listen to your body when it needs a break. Taking the right precautions can help reduce your risk of injury, so make sure to take it slow and stay within your skill level. If you do suffer an injury while skiing, seek medical attention as soon as possible and follow your doctor’s advice for a speedy recovery.


At Clywdian Sports Therapy we understand how important it is to keep you skiing (or snowboarding!) safely and enjoyably - our team of highly experienced physical therapists can help you prevent and recover from injuries. If you have any questions or concerns about your own skiing injury, book a consultation with us today.


Bonus Tips:

  1. Stretch your legs before and after skiing to help reduce the risk of muscle strains.

  2. Stay hydrated throughout your ski session.

  3. Consult a doctor if you are taking any medications that may affect your reaction times on the slopes.

  4. Wear sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburns.

Happy skiing!

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