How to prevent a skiing injury

29 March 2018

Most skiing and snowboarding injuries occur during a fall or a collision. While experienced skiers rarely fall, conditions and terrain can vary rapidly, and everyone carries at least some risk of a tumble. If you are concerned about injury, consider moderating your speed and terrain to reduce your fall risk.

Here are three simple tips from Mr Jeremy Granville-Chapman, our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and avid skier - that might help you minimise your chance of injury:

1. Awareness of snow conditions can help you avoid trouble
As spring approaches, the snow pack typically undergoes daily freeze-thawing. This means it will be icy in the early mornings and very slushy in the late afternoon, especially on south-facing slopes. The pistes leading back into your resort during the final hours of the day will always seem to be littered with fallen skiers!

As legs tire and the snow becomes heavy this is no surprise, so take extra care on your way back to resort and be aware of your own fitness levels. If your legs feel tired and every turn is an effort, it may be worth getting the lift down and being first to secure the best locations for après-ski.

2. Maintaining good core stability, balance and endurance
This will also reduce your chances of falling and, if you do lose control, they will improve your chances of staying up. If you have a couple of weeks before you go on your skiing holiday you may wish to fine-tune your balance and your core stability. Many gyms provide ski-fit classes that cater for this. Your physio will also be happy to provide advice. If there is no time for this, be honest with yourself about your fitness and tailor your skiing to accommodate your capacity.

3. Consider wearing a shoulder brace
If you already have an injury or an unstable shoulder but want to go skiing, then you may wish to wear a shoulder brace. Commercially available braces aim to achieve a reduced risk of dislocation by:

a. Improving your shoulder position awareness and muscle control.
People with shoulder instability lose their joint position awareness. This means they are slow to engage corrective muscle actions to prevent dislocation. A snugly-fitting neoprene brace, or taping can improve the feedback from your skin and help 'tell your brain where your shoulder is'. This can help you control your shoulder. This is the same principle that ‘K-taping’ uses (the thick adhesive tape you may have seen strapped over athletes’ joints).

b. Limiting access to the ‘vulnerable shoulder position’ for dislocation.
In 90% of shoulder dislocations the head comes out forwards. The vulnerable position is with the arm raised away from your body and with your forearm pointing skywards. These braces restrict the forearm rotation and therefore aim to reduce the likelihood of a dislocation. An example brace is the Donjoy shoulder stabiliser, but many manufacturers offer similar products.

In general, to avoid injury it is best to ski within your limits of expertise and confidence. If you have a pre-existing problem with your shoulder, take extra care.

If you are unfortunate enough to injure yourself while skiing, do seek appropriate medical attention in resort, but remember that most upper limb problems can safely wait until you get home to be treated.

Check out our latest infographic to learn more about skiing injuries and of course, best wishes for great snow and blue skies!

For further information on skiing injuries or to book an injury assessment, please call us on 01753 665 404 or contact us No GP referral or private healthcare insurance necessary.


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