10 Common Skiing Injuries (& How to Avoid Them)
If skiing is a part of your life, injuries are too. Injuries are unfortunately closely entwined with skiing, but that's the reality of working with snow. You could end up with a minor sprain or even a severe fracture. However, there are ways you can avoid these injuries with self-awareness being one of them.
Even the best skiers are prone to injuries on the slopes, from head injuries, and ligament tears to fractures and muscle pain. You never know until it happens to you and all it takes is one wrong decision.
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Medical Disclaimer: The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
That said, recreational skiing is not an extreme sport and the chance of injury per ski day is 0.2%-0.3%, or 1 injury every 333–500 ski days, according to Mike Langran, a doctor who specializes in skiing safety (source).
But, who really is at risk of skiing injuries? A clinical study claims skiers aged from 24 to 36 years fall into that category as they tend to take more risks out on the slopes. Other studies claim that it's down to the trail difficulty.
Ten Common Skiing Injuries
The mountain hides several unseen hazards. It’s essential to be mentally and physically aware. Taking precautions to counteract these skiing injuries is a must. You also need to know how to treat banged-up body parts. Enough waffling, let’s jump into the details!
1. Head Injuries
For both beginners and veterans, maintaining speed and balance can be difficult and tripping or falling is inevitable. In addition, hitting your head against an object can lead to catastrophic injuries ranging from minor scratches to significant trauma. Nonetheless, these types of injuries should be treated immediately.
Head injuries can lead to significant bleeding, even if it doesn't look serious, you might feel light-headed. Get it checked regardless of the type of injury, it’ll only get worse without proper treatment. Always use a helmet on while sliding down the hills.
2. Ligament Tears
The collateral ligament connects the end of your knee bones, behind your knee. The ligament prevents the knee from bending inwards and without it your knee won’t be able to function.
Veteran skiers will know firsthand that cold weather isn’t easy on your knees. Most ski enthusiasts are prone to severe pain and bruising due to this. You can still stand on your feet, but it’s not easy to stand up with this tear, so you should keep it iced and elevated. With proper pain management, you can jump back on your skis in no time.
3. ACL Ruptures
The ACL is prone to most harm, especially since you’re maneuvering swiftly while skiing. Skiing involves twists and turns that can lead to an ACL tear. You can find this in the center of your knee. This injury appears when people suddenly pivot or hyperextend.
It’s crucial to regulate your speed during this time. Winter sports are taxing on the body, so don’t make sudden halts and turns while navigating down steep terrains. But, if the worst takes place, stop skiing immediately. For this type of injury, you will need physical therapy to get back in shape.
4. Wrist Fractures
While you’re falling, it’s natural to want to restore your balance by using your hand. Sometimes, it works. In other cases, it doesn’t. Placing your weight on your hands can injure your limbs severely, the last thing you want is a fracture in the middle of the skiing season!
Unfortunately, wrist injuries are common for any sports enthusiast, not just skiers. If you’ve fractured your wrists, you need to stop skiing until you recover. Seek medical assistance and get it treated. You might need a splint or a cast to allow your injury to heal, while some injuries will require specific exercises. Consult your doctor and get your hands treated!
5. Shoulder Pain
Shoulders are susceptible to injuries too with the worst-case scenario is finding your bones out of place. It’s an excruciating process, and it’s hard to turn back without trouble. Since the shoulder is connected to the torso, other body parts might be affected too.
Why Skiing Injuries Happen
6. Lack of Preparation
Knee movement is crucial for skiing. If you’re not prepared physically, then you’re in trouble. You need proper support for shock absorption. Try to do squats regularly. Skiing is a sport that requires a moderate level of fitness and you will need leg strength and muscles. Work on it!
7. Poor Decisions
Experience matters. You’ll be subjected to various issues due to poor judgment. You might be too young and inexperienced to avoid a simple error. But this error might cause severe trouble for you later. Don’t choose trails that are above your league. Know your worth and stay focused!
8. Ill-Fitting Gear
You shouldn’t get equipment that fits your poorly. Your boots shouldn’t be too snug or tight. Don’t make the bindings set too tightly and make the effort to purchase clothes you can maneuver easily in.
9. Untuned Skis
You should tune your ski every five or seven days. Don’t take it out right before the season and wax it once. Imperfections on ski surfaces can lead to unforeseeable trouble. Tune in regularly to keep it in optimal shape and working condition.
10. Selecting the Wrong Location
Finding the right location to ski is a challenge. You can find most ski resorts deep in the mountains. However, it’s difficult to send patrols to all potential accident sites. Most resorts have their clinics, but not all do. Finding medical care on time is a must.
Skiing is an extreme sport, so it's important to think quickly and make safe choices to avoid the worst-case scenario on the ski field. For example, embrace the RICE method. This nifty method stands for “rest, ice, compress, and elevate.” This works for minor strains or injuries, especially in the first few hours. By resting, you’re giving the injury time to heal. Icing will reduce inflammations while compressing provides joint support. Finally, elevating the injured area reduces swelling.
Moreover, taping and strapping injuries provide the support your limbs require. In severe cases, you might need physical therapy to strengthen your limbs. But, of course, you never expect a skiing injury. It just happens. So, safeguard yourself from the worst-case scenarios!