It’s ski season, which means it’s also ski injury season. We’ll share some of the most common ski injuries, but then we’ll also talk about injury prevention. We all love hitting the slopes-we work and play smack in the middle of some of the country’s best ski hills, so getting out there is easy. Staying healthy and in one piece throughout the season can be a bit tricky, as most injuries are caused by falls, collisions, lift accidents, and skiing or snowboarding on dangerous terrain. According to Stop Sports Injuries, an advocacy group founded by the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons and others, the most common injuries seen on the slopes are:
Most Common Ski Injuries
- Anterior Cruciate or Collateral Ligament (ACL) injuries: These injuries include strains and tears that occur from a twisting in the knee beyond the normal range of motion. Some injuries will heal from rest while others are serious enough to require surgery.
- Concussions and other closed head injuries: If you lose control as a skier, it is often difficult to prevent which way you fall. If you do hit your head during a fall, it is important that you pay attention to signs of a concussion.
- Lower-extremity fractures – ankle, tibia, fibula and femur: Depending on how you fall and at what speed, this fracture to one of the bones in your lower body is fairly common.
- Medial Cruciate Ligament (MCL) injuries: These injuries typically occur when the skier falls on their knee while the leg is bent. Trauma to the outside of the knee can result in a strain or tear of the MCL.
- Shoulder dislocation, fractures, and separations: Both partial and complete shoulder dislocations can easily occur if you have a bad fall on the slopes. This can either result from attempting to break a fall with an outstretched hand or by falling directly on the shoulder with the right amount of force.
- Spinal injuries: While less common, injuries to the spine resulting from a fall can be extremely serious.
- Wrist and hand injuries: When you fall on the slopes, your initial reaction may be to break your fall with your hands. Unfortunately, the force applied to your wrist joint and hand can result in a serious injury.
Tips for Preventing Ski Injuries
- Find a ski buddy: We all learned about the buddy system when we were kids-crossing the street, swimming in the community pool, etc…, but even adults should practice skiing with a friend. Using the buddy system can mean the difference in getting swift medical attention if needed and waiting in pain alone for a long time.
- Fuel your body: Just as it is important to drink plenty of fluids, it is vital to keep your body strong and fueled up to promote good form and posture while skiing.
- Stay hydrated: People tend to think of dehydration as a common risk factor during summer months, But the body is easily dehydrated during any season if you are involved in physical activity. Dehydration negatively impacts your body’s endurance and physical ability. Make sure to hydrate before, during and after your time skiing.
- Listen to your body: Don’t do that last run if you are tired and physically drained. When your body is depleted, you are more likely to ski with poor form and sustain an injury.
- Ski according to your ability: Don’t attempt trails above your ability level, and pay attention to the weather. A trail that was easy for you one day may be significantly harder the next if snow and ice conditions change.
- Wear proper equipment: Be sure that all your ski and protective equipment fits and works properly. If you are not sure how to check your bindings, ask a pro to help. Always be sure to wear a helmet. The use of protective equipment has been associated with a 43 percent decrease in the rate of head, neck and face injuries, according to Stop Sports Injuries.
Ski injuries may still happen, even after you take all the precautions. If you or your ski buddy gets injured, use the R.I.C.E. system until you can get a medical professional to tend to the injured area.
OrthoIdaho is conveniently located at 2240 E Center St, Pocatello, ID 83201. Call for an appointment today: 208-233-2100. www.orthoida.com