Ways to prevent injuries from skiing and snowboarding
How is it possible to ski safely and prevent ski injuries? This is a question that has affected thousands of individuals.
Most snowsport injuries are traumatic and are caused by falls, collisions, lift accidents, poor judgement and more. Among the most common winter sports that cause such injuries are skiing and snowboarding.
Areas of the body most frequently injured during snowsports
A survey was conducted in 2009 and published in Epidemiology & Prevention, comparing skiing to snowboarding. It was determined that traumatic injuries were more frequent in skiers (10.2%) as opposed to snowboarders (2.6%). A wide range of traumatic injuries that occur from both snowboarding and skiing involve many areas of the body, including:
- Spinal injuries
- Shoulder separations
- Shoulder dislocations and fractures
- Anterior cruciate or collateral ligament injuries
- Wrist, hand, or thumb injuries
- Lower extremity fractures
- Closed head injuries
Fortunately, most snowsport injuries are minor and can be treated with bracing, the use of certain anti-inflammatory medication and plenty of rest. Some fractures or ligament injuries may require surgery, where recovery may take up to 3-6 months (depending on the severity of the injury).
What are some measures that can be taken to prevent skiing and snowboarding injuries?
Dr. Piero Volpi (Director of the Knee Surgery and Sports Traumatology Unit in Humanitas Research Hospital) provides some helpful prevention measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of skiing and snowboarding injuries.
- Get involved in activities to improve cardiovascular endurance (ex: biking, swimming, using the treadmill, etc).
- Strengthen the leg muscles and abdomen muscles. “Core stability exercises are a set of useful exercises that help develop the abdominal and lower back muscles. In fact, they lead to better balance and stability by assisting in maintenance of good posture. They also account for proper arm and leg movements.”
- Incorporate proprioceptive exercises in your daily work-out. “Do not forget to include proprioceptive and balance exercises with a trampoline or exercise ball.” These exercises teach the body to react appropriately to sudden changes in the environment.
- Perform anaerobic muscle strengthening exercises (jumping, sprinting, and weight lifting). “Individuals who wish to get involved in high-intensity activities for toning the muscles or losing weight should do anaerobic exercises such as cycling or running.”
- Always wear proper clothing and well-fitted equipment. “It may seem insignificant but helmets and other equipment such as a ski mask and boots are critical. Collisions and loss of balance can cause serious head injury. It is important to protect the skull and brain by ensuring your equipment is in good condition and fits properly. Helmets are mandatory for children up to the ages of 14, though they are highly recommended for individuals of all ages.”
- Take skiing or snowboarding lessons from professional and qualified instructors.
- Comply with the safety rules and regulations of ski lifts and trails. Changes in weather conditions, collisions with other individuals, as well as natural hazards such as trees and rocks are all risks you are exposed to while skiing or snowboarding.
- Know your ability, follow safety rules and always stay in control.
Photograph by Sam Ross @ The Radio Scout