Safety on the Slopes – Common Skiing Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Staying active during the winter months can be a difficult process. Cold weather can make joints sore and can prevent regular use of outside recreational areas.

But when winter closes one door, it opens another. If you’re lucky enough to live near a mountain slope, keeping active in winter means one thing: skiing. While skiing is a great way to get the heart pumping, blood circulating, and muscles strengthening, it can be especially hurtful to sensitive joints.

The team at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons shares your passion for racing downhill, but if you’re not careful, you could end up with a serious, skiing-related injury. If you’re taking to the slopes this winter season, make sure you’re fully aware of these common injuries and the steps you can take to prevent or lessen them.


Ankle Sprains

No matter how you look at it, the ankles are the heroes of most winter sports. If the knees operate like a car’s suspension when skiing, your ankles are the wheels. Taking too quick a turn, stopping suddenly, or twisting in an unnatural way can add stress to your ankles and may even result in tearing.

While some ankle sprains can be treated with rest and a bag of ice, skiing can also cause severe damage to the ligaments and may even require surgery. If you experience regular or intense ankle pain out of skis, you’ll likely experience even more on slopes.

Wearing an ankle brace can keep the ligaments from overextending, but there’s no substitute for equipment with a proper fit.


Torn ACL

Most doctors consider skiing as a “high-impact” sport. Even if you’re sticking to the bunny slope, skiing can be dangerous. Unfortunately, skiing is no stranger to the most dreaded injury in sports—the ACL tear.

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) connects the thighbone to the shinbone at the knee. ACL tears can occur during sudden twists or awkward falls—two scenarios common in skiing.  Avoiding an ACL tear isn’t an exact science, but there are some steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of keeping healthy.

Warming up before any activity, but especially skiing, can prepare the muscles in your legs, while proper hydration aids in endurance and overall energy. Strengthening your hips, core muscles, and legs during the summer months can also give you a fighting chance to stave off the boogeyman of orthopaedic injuries.


Rotator Cuff Strain

Though our lower extremities are at a greater risk for injury during skiing, the upper body isn’t entirely free of peril. The shoulders are especially vulnerable to awkward falls and other high-impact collisions.

Although the knees and ankles take the brunt, energy from skiing poles can travel to the shoulder causing dislocations, strains, and tears. Here, as with most other injuries, staying strong year-round can help lower your likelihood of injury. Even so, accidents happen and a hard tree can appear out of nowhere on the more challenging slopes.

By being honest about your skill level, staying strong, and even preparing for possible injuries, you give yourself the best possible chance of remaining healthy no matter how many times you go up and back down your preferred mountainside.


Ski On

The best injuries are the ones that never happen. If you or someone you know enjoys the powdered slopes to the fullest, you may want to consult with an orthopaedic surgeon about any aches, swelling, or recurring injuries.

Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons support your sporting pastime and want to be there to help you stay injury free all winter long.

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