Downhill skiing is one of the most exhilarating activities you can experience during the winter season. However, this fun-filled activity is associated with the risk of injury due to falls and collisions on the slopes and can cause torn ligaments, broken bones, and serious head injuries.
Knee and lower leg injuries are the most common with the majority due to inadequate ski binding release. Ski bindings secure the ski boot to the ski and are designed to release when subject to the high forces of an impact or fall. While the introduction of releasable ski bindings has significantly reduced the rate of leg fractures, the most common injuries, ACL and MCL tears, are on the rise.
In addition, sprains and fractures of the fingers, hands, and wrists are also quite common. These types of injuries usually occur when one falls on an outstretched hand while the ski pole is still strapped to their wrist.
Here are a few tips to prevent common ski injuries this winter:
Be Well Prepared Physically: Downhill skiing requires a combination of strength, flexibility, endurance and quick reflexes. Adhere to a conditioning program to make sure you are up to the challenges of the sport. Warm up properly before putting on your skis and don’t forget to cool down after.
Use the Right Equipment: Whether you are buying or renting ski equipment, seek expert advice. Make sure the equipment fits well and is suitable for the intended use. All ski binding adjustments should be done under professional supervision and your boots should be comfortable, sturdy, waterproof, and provide thermal protection. Do not cut corners when it comes to layering clothing and wearing protective gear such as helmets and goggles. It is better to be safe than sorry!
Use Proper Technique: If you are a novice, make sure the ski run is in line with your skill level. Don’t ski too fast, hold the poles correctly, and ensure that the straps are in place. Most importantly, remember to follow all of the safety recommendations provided by the local authority.
Don’t Stray from the Marked Trails: Designated trails are the safest place to ski. Straying from them can lead you into territory with obstacles such as cliffs, trees and large rocks. Skiing on unmarked trails also puts you at risk of injury because they have not been rated for difficulty and may be too steep. All these factors are likely to cause injury, so be safe and stay on the slopes!
Take Breaks: Overexerting yourself and not resting while skiing can affect your ability to think clearly and remember proper technique, which can lead to injury. Be sure to take plenty of breaks and stay hydrated.
Don’t Fight the Fall: If you feel like you’re about to fall, don’t try to catch yourself with your hands. This can cause injuries to the upper extremities. Instead, try sitting down. Sitting down will greatly reduce your speed and help you gain control before you run into someone or something.
Miscellaneous Safety Tips: Carry a list of your medications with you in case you do get injured and are in need of first aid. Always inform someone about where you intend to ski and when you can be expected back home. Children should only ski under adult supervision. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages and ski as this will dull your reflexes and cause hypothermia.
By following these tips, you are doing your best to ensure a memorable and safe skiing experience this winter.