Winter is coming! The ski season is on the horizon, and the anticipation of taking runs on the slopes has finally reached its end. It’s time to dust off all of those cobwebs that have accumulated on your skis, boots, and clothes that have been sitting in that storage closet or garage for too long and prepare them for another epic season on the mountain! Before tackling those pristine groomers and deep powder, though, there are a few things that we need to be prepared for before heading for the slopes.
It’s essential to be prepared going into skiing to avoid an unwanted injury that may prematurely end that early excitement for shredding. As excited as we want to be for the upcoming ski seasons, adequate preparation for the mountain may lead to an early season’s end if the proper steps are taken after the beginning of the season.
From this article, we will look at the following:
- Most Common Ways That Skiers Injure Themselves
- Common Injuries Sustained While Skiing
- 7 Steps To Take To Prepare For The Ski Season To Help To Avoid Injury
Most Common Ways That Skiers Injure Themselves
Skiers can injure themselves in a multitude of ways. Skiing at high speeds predisposes skiers to potential injuries involving collisions or bad falls. Beginner skiers tend to get hurt 3x more often than expert skiers. However, expert skiers tend to have more significant injuries when encountering a nasty fall. Thankfully, skiing injuries have declined since the 1970s by about 50%, with improvements in ski equipment and safety.
When skiers do tend to injure themselves, it is commonly due to not skiing within their skill level on the mountain. It is important to know your skill level when you are skiing, as skiing at speeds that are too fast and out of your control may lead to a bad collision or fall. Skiers can additionally injure themselves when their equipment needs to be better fitted, including having skis or boots that aren’t fitted to their skill level or body type.
Poor conditioning has additionally been found to be related to a high risk of injury, as poor conditioning may lead to poor tolerance of more challenging terrain on the mountain. Aside from poor conditioning, it is also crucial for skiers to have and maintain good judgment while skiing. Younger individuals may tend to be injured more likely due to demonstrating poor judgments compared to older adults.
Common Injuries Sustained While Skiing
Here are some of the most common injuries encountered during the ski season:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear (knee)
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) tear (knee)
- Glenohumeral dislocation
- Clavicle fracture
Due to the frequency of torsional forces experienced by skiers, knee ligament injuries are some of the most prevalent injuries experienced during the ski season. Skiiers frequently twist and turn the lower half of their body on terrain that may be firm or soft. A fall or spill in the wrong direction could place excessive stress on the ligaments holding the knee together.
Concussions are frequently encountered due to the impact at high speeds that skiers may experience with a fall into the ground or possibly another skier or a tree. Some of these injuries may be preventable if the proper steps are taken before being on the mountain.
7 Steps To Take To Prepare For The Ski Season To Help To Avoid Injury
There are several things to think about prior to beginning the ski season to ensure that you start off skiing in a safe manner.
1. Ensure all equipment is properly fitted
Advancements in technology with bindings, boots, and other gear over the past few decades have globally reduced the frequency of lower extremity injuries in skiers. However, these advancements are only successfully preventative if the equipment is appropriately fitted to the individual. Before beginning the season, it’s vital to ensure that your bindings are appropriately fitted to your boots and that you have the correct DIN setting. As a reminder, the DIN setting changes the force it would take to release a skier from their bindings. An incorrect setting for a skier at a certain skill level may cause an injury if the boots don’t release from the bindings during a fall. Most ski injuries result from falls where boots didn’t release from bindings.
2. Begin to condition prior to beginning the ski season
Skiing involves good aerobic conditioning, so beginning a training program involving running, riding the elliptical, or the Stairmaster are great examples of conditioning exercises before starting the ski season. Skiing also requires frequent knee bending, endurance, and strength of the quadriceps and gluteal muscles to facilitate constant hip and knee bending down the slopes. Incorporating different strength and endurance exercises for the quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings, calf muscles, and other core muscles will help prepare you for the mountain.
Improving Gluteal And Quadriceps Strength And Endurance
Improving Hamstring Strength And Endurance
Improving Core Stability:
3. Understand your skill level prior to going on the mountain
A variety of ski injuries are caused by skiers overestimating their skill levels in different environments. Should you be skiing fast down moguls if you don’t ski moguls frequently? Should you be skiing fast down black diamond runs if you don’t usually ski steeps? It’s essential to identify your skier type and recognize your weaknesses and strengths on the mountain. Suppose you are skiing terrain that is more challenging than your usual terrain. It’s a good idea to bring a buddy with you and receive appropriate ski instruction or training on navigating through more difficult mountain terrain this ski season.
4. Consider your safety
Take an avalanche safety class particularly if you are backcountry skiing, and bring the appropriate equipment with you.
Certain areas of the mountain you may be on may be more prone to avalanches if you are backcountry skiing or in an area with powder. If you are backcountry skiing, you must carry a probe, a shovel, and a beacon if you run into an avalanche.
5. Learn the proper way to fall
Yes, there is an appropriate way to fall or not to fall. When you fall during skiing, if you attempt to stand up and extend your knees instead of keeping your knees bent and accepting the fall, you may leave yourself more prone to a ligament injury like an ACL tear. Learning how to fall appropriately may save you from an early end to your ski season.
6. Understand all appropriate ski rules, including terrain and boundary
Are you familiar with appropriate ski etiquette while on the mountain? For instance, the downhill skier always has the right of way, so if that person is skiing out of control, it may be your responsibility to work around that erratic ski pattern. It is also essential to familiarize yourself with the terrain you are on, such as studying the resort map you are on to recognize the ski boundary areas around the resort. Skiing out of bounds may increase the likelihood of injury due to being on advanced terrain. Still, it may also cause the resort to penalize you with a possible pass revoking or suspension.
7. Take lessons!
Even intermediate to advanced skiers may benefit from lessons to improve their skill level. An advanced skier that has never participated in backcountry skiing could benefit from skills, tips, and tricks to ski on advanced terrain as opposed to common groomers experienced in the resort. Regardless of skill level, it is always wise to improve your skill level to reduce the likelihood of injury during the ski season, particularly if you know that you will be skiing on more advanced terrain.
Thank you for reading 7 Important Steps to Take Prior to Beginning the Ski Season. We hope it has helped you understand prevention of ski injuries better. To learn more about other conditions and how we treat different types of common sports injuries, please visit our Sports Injuries page.
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