Skiing is for some a serious sport, for others an adrenaline rush, and for most of us a much needed winter break from the routine.
Skiing is a demanding activity and places high demands on our bodies, especially the legs.
Injuries can occur for many reasons, but what we know for sure is that when you are more conditioned for an activity, you are able to significantly reduce the level of risk you are exposed to.
With this in mind, we are running a 6 week program of strength and conditioning in preparation for your ski trip. In this blog we will be explaining the various knee injuries that can occur and offering some useful preventative advice.
40% of skiing injuries are to the knee. The binding release mechanism on skis has caused a successful reduction in broken bones, but there is no protection for the knee ligaments or cartilages. The 3 most frequently injured structures are the medial collateral ligament – at risk in the snow plough position, the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus or cartilage usually injured when bending and twisting. When you injure all three this is called the ‘unhappy triad’!
People particularly at risk are unfit recreational skiers taking their annual ski holiday and fatigue is one of the biggest factors. Does this sound familiar?
As with all sports, just playing that sport is not really enough to optimise performance or manage the risk of injury well. Participating in conditioning exercises that incorporate many different areas of fitness – aerobic, strength, balance, co-ordination and flexibility for example, will give you the necessary all round skills to ski well and stay injury free.
After all PREVENTION IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN CURE!
How can I prevent these injuries?
We strongly recommend attending a Get Fit to Ski program and we have designed a six week course to help you prepare in time for the coming season.
Here are some other hints and tips we have put together:
- Pre-season quadriceps strengthening: we recommend building up the thigh muscles using the stepper or bike and weights machines. To improve endurance keep the number of reps per set quite high (about 20).
Core stability and balance exercises: it’s essential to have good control of your trunk, pelvis and hip muscles and Pilates exercises are excellent for this – we run Pilates classes in our studio here. Having quick reactions and good balance will help you cope with that unsuspecting mogul! Swiss ball exercises are a great way of improving balance.
- Recognising dangerous situations: don’t try to get up until you have stopped sliding. Don’t jump unless you know how to land! Keep knees soft when you fall to cushion the impact.
- Preventing fatigue: pacing yourself during the day’s skiing will help prevent fatigue. For example, warm up on an easy slope and take short regular breaks for refreshments. Remember, injuries are most likely to happen first thing in the morning when you’re cold and in the afternoon when you’re tired.
- Après ski: no, not the drink at the end of the day! We recommend carrying out a thorough stretching routine to help the muscles relax and recover. Important muscles to stretch are quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, gluteals, lower back and hip flexors.
- Equipment: it is very important not to ‘make do’ with loose or ill fitting bindings or the wrong type of ski for your experience and skill level. A bit of time spent hiring or buying the right equipment is a must.
Should the worst occur – how do I quickly access treatment?
Accurate diagnosis and treatment is essential in ensuring that any injury recovers as quickly and successfully as possible.
Many injuries are not severe enough to require surgery and will get better with Physiotherapy. We can help reduce the swelling, restore the normal movement of the knee and strengthen the surrounding muscles so that some stability is restored. However, some injuries will require surgery and, here at Physio on the River, we have excellent links to specialist ski Consultants for fast referral.
If you need any help with this or you’d be interested in booking yourself onto our Fit to Ski class before the season starts, please contact us here. Our Physios are always happy to chat about a problem on the phone before booking an appointment and you can reach us on 0203 916 0286 or pop by in person.
If you enjoyed this blog then take a look at our other skiing blogs.