How to Prevent Ski Injuries – Beating the Slopes

Winter time is right around the corner for those of us in the Mid Willamette Valley, which means the rainy season is hot (or cold?) on the trail. For many of us, that means getting cozy with a hot cup of tea or cocoa and watching movies. For others, that means heading out to Hoodoo or Mt. Bachelor for some skiing to enjoy the freshly fallen snow.  Skiing is a fun sport that presents its own set of challenges.  But ski injuries are not fun.

It is easy to guess how skiing could lead to injury. Zooming down a hill at potentially high speeds without much padding doesn’t really lend itself to safety. That said, even people who despise the cold and snow (guilty as charged) have to admit that flying along the ground has some sense of freedom and excitement to it.  It’s important to keep yourself ready if you plan on getting down the slopes in one piece.  

Here are some tips to avoid ski injuries:

  • Keep your legs strong – Skiing requires a lot of strength from the legs.  Knee injuries are incredibly common among skiers, so keeping the legs strong is the best way to prevent those injuries.  Make sure that you’re doing exercises that emphasize the use of one leg at a time. Exercises such as lunges and lateral step downs are great options.  With both exercises, make sure you’re keeping your knee over your foot instead of inside or outside of the foot.  3-5 sets of 10-20 reps for 2-3 times a week is a good place to start.  
  • Work on your balance – Balance is most effectively challenged by working on one leg.  The two exercises mentioned above will likely help with balance, but certain people might need a little more control.  A fun drill to try is to stand on one leg and reach to your sides (example here).  This can be made harder by closing your eyes and/or doing this on a soft or uneven surface like a pillow or incline.  Try reaching repetitively with control for 30-60 seconds at a time for 2-3 sets. This can be done daily.   
  • Start preparing early – If you know you have a ski trip planned, start working now.  Getting started as soon as a week or two before you go can get your mind and body used to similar stresses that skiers experience.  If you could keep up with some level of regular leg strengthening and balance exercises year-round, even better! The point is to make sure that you’re getting yourself ready early.  

Winter sports are fun but they present their own challenges.  Skiing is certainly no different and can lead to some serious injuries if you’re not ready.  If you have any concerns about skiing this year, see a personal trainer or physical therapist to make sure you’re good to go.  Have fun on the slopes and avoid ski injuries! 

Got questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to discover your future without limits. Follow us on Facebook!

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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