Taking an active vacation is a great way to stay healthy and create memories. Unfortunately, any sport comes with risks, including skiing. Even the top athletes in the sport experience at worst career-ending and at best inconvenient injuries that can set back progress and take the joy out of skiing, at least for a little while. Whether you’re a season pass holder or only head to the mountains a couple of times a year with family, use these tips to make sure your time on the slopes is both fun and safe!
Train These Muscle Groups
Knee injuries are some of the most commonly talked about ski injuries. These can include tears to the ligaments or tissues in the knee, such as the meniscus, ACL, LCL, MCL, or PCL. Often happening while bending, twisting, or turning, these can be both painful and ultimately costly if extensive physical therapy or surgery is required. On the bright side, these types of injuries can be prevented by knowing your limits by avoiding excessive fatigue (see our point below) and training the appropriate muscle groups.
Strengthening glutes and hamstrings is particularly important in providing additional stability to the knee joint. Flexibility in these muscles is also important so you can withstand falls and twists more easily. Adding in core work can help with your stability as well, making these falls less likely.
Strengthen This Part of Your Body
Have you ever heard of–or experienced yourself–achilles ruptures, tibial fractures, or ankle injuries? They can be painful and long-lasting, especially ankle sprains, without much hope for a full, pain-free recovery. The best course of action with these types of injuries is to prevent them!
The first step you can take is to check your binding settings. Make sure they are set right for you. Once you’re sure they’re set appropriately, check them again. This is one of the simplest ways you can prevent lower leg injuries! The next step you need to take is strengthening your lower leg, including your calves, ankles, and feet!
Drop Your Poles
Skiers who fall with their thumbs out, often suffer an ailment called skiers thumb. This is when the ligament in your thumb, which are important for your gripping action, is injured. Sometimes this can result in temporary pain, long lasting arthritis, or something that needs to be surgically repaired. The easiest way to prevent this injury is by dropping your poles in the fall. This will help keep you from falling with your thumbs out. Other ways you can prevent upper extremity injuries is by improving core strength to prevent falls and practicing falling techniques because let’s face it, falling is a part of the sport!
Because falling is inevitable when you’re challenging yourself and working with mother nature, practicing falling at slower speeds and leveler inclines is a great strategy to prevent injuries. Some of the ways you can make your spills safer include relaxing, not digging in your edges, aiming your feet downhill, and not putting your arm out to break the fall.
Wear Protective Gear
Many risks you take while skiing are simply associated with being outdoors. Use our packing list to make sure you’ve covered all your bases when prepping for your trip. As a general rule, you need to make sure you have – or can get access to – these items:
- Waterproof clothing
- Waterproof gloves
- Multiple layers of moisture-wicking clothing
- UV protected goggles or sunglasses
- Microfiber lens wipe
- Hand and toe warmers
Some skiers might also opt to wear additional protective gear, such as back pads, supportive knee or wrist braces, and padded shorts.
Know Your Limits
Ultimately, many ski injuries can be prevented by knowing your limits. If you know you’re typically wiped after only a few hours of skiing, try saving money on a half-day lift ticket or build in a long midday break. Avoid taking the more challenging trails until you’ve mastered the blues and greens. If you’re just a beginner, try starting out without the ski poles so you don’t have them in the way as you fall and find your footing.
Our goal is to keep you skiing for as long as possible by staying injury-free. (Plus, you’ll be able to look forward to the free lift tickets for super seniors as one way you can save by skiing in New Mexico!) Be sure to keep leveling up in your ski practice by using the tips above, taking lessons from trained instructors, and following blogs like ours that will keep you updated with the latest news. If you do, you are bound to learn, grow, and enjoy skiing even more!