Proper Skiing Form can Help You Avoid Injuries

Proper Warm-Ups, Following Safety Rules Vital in Keeping You Safe

For winter sports lovers, the snow and cold weather cannot come soon enough. However, hitting the slopes often includes strains, sprains, broken bones and concussions.

Poor technique, improper preparation, falls and accidents, such as running into another person, cause the majority of injuries among skiers and snowboarders, said Krista Solarek, a physician assistant at ThedaCare Orthopedic Care in Berlin.

Knee ligament injuries – the ACL and MCL – are the most common injury because of the rigid boots worn by skiers that keep their ankles from twisting, she said.

“Unfortunately, this transfers the twisting motion and a lot of the injuries up to the knee,” Solarek said. “The best way to prevent knee injuries is through safe technique. Avoid sharp turns, travel at a safe speed, especially on new slopes, and increase your quad strength prior to buckling up your boots for the season.”

Skier’s thumb is another common injury, which is caused when the ligament on the inside of the base of the thumb is pulled away when a ski pole catches the thumb and pulls it away from the hand during a fall, Solarek said.

“One way to avoid skier’s thumb is to not put your hands in the loops of the pole,” she said.

Concussions and other head injuries are another concern for skiers, which is why Solarek recommends skiers and snowboarders wear a helmet.

“The snow is beautiful, but it’s often not much softer than a hardwood gym floor, which is why concussions and traumatic head injuries are not uncommon during the ski season,” she said. “The injuries are caused by a jarring of the head, either into a tree, onto the ground, another skier/boarder, or into or off a chair lift.”

Skiers and snowboarders can reduce their injury risk by improving their balance through different exercises, Solarek said. Some specific balance exercises include balancing one foot with your eyes open and near a surface that you can hold on to if needed and progress to balancing on one foot with your eyes closed, she said. To make the exercise more challenging, you could try standing on a pillow or jumping on one foot. People concerned about their balance or who are looking for more specific exercises should contact their orthopedic provider.

Warming up using dynamic stretching exercises before hitting the slopes is another way to decrease chances of being injured, Solarek said.

“Dynamic stretches can stimulate reflexes in your muscles and tendons and get your mind and body focused on balance and proprioception, or your body’s position is space while allowing you time to focus on what you are about to put your body through,” she said. “Stretching can prepare you as much mentally as it does physically.”

Taking the proper steps beforehand and staying focused on safety can help skiers and snowboarders have a great day on the slopes, Solarek said.

“The winter sports season can be short so you want to enjoy it as much as possible,” she said.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.