How to Prevent Skiing Injuries | Common Ski Injuries

How to Prevent Skiing Injuries

A man injured while skiing

Just how common are ski injuries and snowboard injuries? According to estimates from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 2017 saw more than 88,210 visits to hospitals, doctors’ offices, and emergency rooms for ski injuries (and more than 61,668 for snowboard injuries). Knee sprains, shoulder dislocations, and lower leg fractures are among the most common ski injuries—but proper preparation and safety protocols can help you to avoid these and other snow sport injuries. Before you hit your favorite Chicago-area slopes, find out what you can do to prevent ski injuries in this guide from IMPACT Physical Therapy!

What Are the Most Common Ski Injuries?

Like all sports, skiing and snowboarding come with the risk of injury. Still, there’s a lot you can do to prevent these common ski injuries:

  • Knee Sprains – This injury involves the tearing or overextension of a ligament in the knee, and it occurs when the knee is under too much strain or bent in the wrong direction. To prevent knee sprain injuries from skiing, try wearing a special knee brace designed for this purpose.
  • Wrist Fractures – Falling on an outstretched arm can cause a sprained or broken wrist. Here again, you can wear a brace while skiing to prevent this injury.
  • Leg Fractures – Wearing skis increases pressure on your lower leg bones, and you could sustain a lower leg fracture due to a fall or collision. Properly-fitted gear can help you to maintain balance and stay in control on the slopes.
  • Skull & Brain injuries – High-speed collisions can cause common head injuries like concussions and hematomas. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that skiers and snowboarders wear helmets to help prevent head injuries.
  • Shoulder Dislocation – A dislocated shoulder occurs when the arm bone is pushed out of the shoulder socket. Like wrist fractures, shoulder dislocations often result when the skier throws out an arm to break a fall. Shoulder stabilizers and clavicle supports can go a long way in reducing the likelihood of this painful, but common, ski injury.
  • Ankle Sprains – Sprained tendons in the foot and ankle tend to happen when the ski bindings don’t unlatch as intended after a fall. Try an ankle brace to prevent injuries, but keep in mind that different skiers may need different levels of support for the ankle and foot.

More Ways to Prevent Ski Injuries

Aside from a helmet and braces to protect your bones and tendons, you can and should prevent skiing injuries by maintaining your ski gear and getting into proper condition before you ski:

  • Be prepared with well-conditioned muscles by the start of the ski season.
  • Get hydrated before you ski.
  • Know how to use your equipment properly.
  • Make sure your ski boots are a perfect fit and that your ski (or snowboard) edges are straight and sharp.
  • Check the ski binding release mechanism before every ski session.
  • Slow down when the slopes are crowded or weather conditions are less than ideal.
  • Follow ski patrol instructions and never ski “out-of-bounds.”

Learn More About Sports Injury Prevention with IMPACT Physical Therapy

You can find additional resources for preventing common sports injuries on our Physical Therapy and Athletics blog. You can find IMPACT Physical Therapy locations in Chicago, across the Southwest suburbs, and in Champaign Urbana. To find out whether physical therapy could help you build strength and increase flexibility for safer skiing, request an appointment today!