Stay strong and ski injury free this season

Monday, January 23, 2017

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Lori Mock is the owner of Motus Physical Therapy and medical staff with the USA Ski and Snowboard teams

By Lori Mock

Ski and snowboard season is upon us and we are all excited to hit the slopes. Here are some tips to help your body stay strong and ski injury free throughout the season.

Most injuries are the result of poor conditioning or faulty equipment.

The most common injuries among alpine skiers and snowboarders are knee sprains, shoulder injuries, head and face injuries, and wrist and thumb injuries.

The knee is the most commonly injured joint, resulting in about one-third of all ski injuries. Injury rates and type vary with uncontrollable factors such as weather and snow conditions. Proper equipment and conditioning, however, are factors that we can control.

Here is a check list before you head to the mountains
  • Be sure you are in good physical condition when you set out on a ski outing. If you are out of shape, select ski runs carefully and gradually build your way up to more challenging trails. Skiers can increase their safety and performance this winter by starting with a conditioning program that includes four components: endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. Aerobic fitness is the key to preventing the end-of-the-day injuries (the last run). Strength and flexibility, focusing on the legs and core, are vital in injury prevention. Balance training is also an important component of a winter sport-conditioning program.
  • Warm up. Research studies have shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes. Take a couple of slow ski runs to complete your warm up. The few minutes spent warming up will be well worthwhile in injury prevention.
  • Hydrate. Even mild levels of dehydration can affect physical ability and endurance. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after skiing.
  • Skiers and snowboarders should examine their equipment prior to the first run. Are the skis, poles and boots in good condition and properly sized for the individual’s weight, size and skill? Make sure the bindings are also properly adjusted.
  • Many injuries happen at the end of the day, when people try to get in one last run before the day's end. A majority of these injuries can easily be prevented if you prepare by keeping in good physical condition and stopping when you are tired or in pain.

Tips for conditioning
  • Improving flexibility in your ankles, knees and hips will allow for proper shock absorption during your trips down the slopes. Good thoracic rotation will help with providing good mobility for balance and keeping your trunk in the right positions.
  • Incorporate sport specific dynamic exercises into your training program that link the core, hips, and legs. Skiing and snowboarding are complex sports. Training these muscular networks is vital.
  • Stretching: Stretching post-snowboarding or skiing can decrease lactic acid build up and can keep your joints and tissue mobile. Even a quick 10-minute stretch can do wonders for you the next day.
  • Perform active recovery: Easy gentle mobility exercises such as air squats or yoga movements can flush your system from unwanted toxins that can build up after a long day of skiing or boarding.
  • Treat yourself: Sometimes foam rollers aren’t enough to relieve those sore muscles. Soft tissue mobilization from massages not only feels great but helps with circulation while promoting a relaxing recovery.

Enjoy this snow season and stay healthy on your mountain trips!


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