We may not have any ski slopes in England, but plenty of us Brits will find ourselves in the mountains on ski holidays this winter (travel restrictions & COVID permitting). This can be an extremely exciting time, but unfortunately some skiers often underestimate what is required to get through a ski holiday in one piece. Nearly one in six British people suffer an injury while taking part in snow sports with 1 in 5 of those injured continuing to experience persistent pain. This is why snow sports injuries have their own section on the travel insurance forms!
What are the most common skiing injuries?
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture or sprain
- Medical cruciate ligament (MCL) rupture or sprain
- Shoulder sprains, fractures, dislocations
- Wrist and thumb fractures
- Head injuries, whiplash and concussion
What are the main causes/risk factors of skiing injuries?
- Poor physical preparation
- Not warming up before going up the slopes
- Ignoring the safety rules of the resort (i.e speed, chair lift instructions)
- Damaged, incorrect or lack of ski equipment
- Taking risks (i.e off-piste, park)
- No professional training
- Age 35-50
- Mental errors (poor judgement, lack of skill, fatigue)
What can I do to prevent a skiing injury?
The prevention of a skiing injury starts with a pre-trip specific and tailored exercise/fitness programme to condition the body, as most skiing injuries are encountered towards the end of the day as we fatigue! Once in resort, simple tips such as doing a warm-up before heading to the lifts, sticking to the slopes which are suited to your experience level, incorporating sufficient rest periods into your day, having your skis tuned, including getting the correct DIN setting for your weight and religiously wearing a helmet will all help to mitigate your risk of injuring yourself on the slopes this winter.
Here are three great examples of ski fit exercises to get you started which target strength, flexibility and balance. Give them a go!
Bulgarian Split Squats
Position your feet in front of a chair/bench/box with your torso upright. Extend one leg behind you and locate the foot and toes on to the top of the chair/bench/box. This is the starting position. From this position lower your body down, while keeping the torso upright and maintaining balance. Make sure that the supporting leg, knee and foot are all in alignment. 10-14 repetitions and then perform with the opposite leg. Repeat 3 times.
Note: It is important in this exercise to not allow your knee of the standing leg to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, as this will put undue stress on the knee joint.
Single Leg Shoulder Bridge
Lie on your back with bent knees and hands by your side. Straighten one bent leg out keeping knees in line with each other. With your weight on your shoulders, press through your grounded heel and lift up your hips. Hold while squeezing your glutes for 5 seconds and slowly lower back down. 10-14 repetitions and then perform with the opposite leg. Repeat 3 times.
2 to 1 Jump
Position yourself with your feet hip widths apart and equally weight bearing between both feet. Bend the knees slightly to prepare. Jump off of both feet, propelling yourself upwards and forwards. Land on one foot, keeping your balance. Stay balanced on one leg for 5 seconds before returning to the starting position. 10-14 repetitions and then perform with the opposite leg. Repeat 3 times.
What to do if you get a skiing injury?
If you’re unlucky enough to have a ski injury, seek medical assistance from ski patrol or ice, rest and elevate the injured body part. On return to England, if your pain has not subsided, it is important to see a physiotherapist or other health care professional. We have a team of expert physiotherapists here at goPhysio that can help aid your recovery from ski-related injuries and get you back to full function.