Ski Season Survival: Navigating the Common Injuries on the Slopes

Nov 7, 2023

Ski Season Survival: Navigating the Common Injuries on the Slopes


Check out Gavin’s chat with Ed Thompson of Instant Physio, where they discuss ski injuries. Click HERE.

As the winter wonderland beckons and you strap on your skis for another unforgettable swoosh down the slopes, it’s worth remembering that with high-speed thrills come potential spills. I’m Gavin, from Gav Noble Physiotherapy, and today I’m addressing the ski enthusiasts and seasonal snowbirds to discuss the three most frequent injuries sustained while skiing, how to respond if you’re affected, and crucially, how to prevent them.


  1. Knee Ligament Injuries


The knee bears the brunt of the turns, twists, and occasional tumbles that come with skiing. The most common culprits are injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL).


What to Do About Them:


If you suspect a ligament injury, it’s the R.I.C.E protocol – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This immediate action can mitigate swelling and pain. However, this is only the first aid response and should not replace professional evaluation.


Prevention Tips:


– Always warm up before hitting the slopes. Dynamic stretches that mimic your skiing movements are particularly effective.

– Focus on strengthening exercises for your lower body, especially your quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips, months before your ski trip.

– Ensure your ski bindings are properly adjusted to your skill level, as incorrect settings can cause the boot to fail to release in a fall, leading to injury.


  1. Shoulder Dislocations and Fractures


When a fall occurs, the natural instinct is to outstretch a hand to break the fall, which can lead to shoulder injuries like dislocations or fractures.


What to Do About Them:


Firstly, do not try to pop a shoulder back in – this is a job for professionals. Immobilise the arm, apply ice to reduce swelling, and seek immediate medical attention.


Prevention Tips:


– Improve your upper body strength through exercises that bolster shoulder muscles, like shoulder presses and lateral raises.

– Practice fall techniques. Learning how to fall correctly can significantly reduce the risk of a shoulder injury.

– Stay within your skill level. Overestimating your abilities on more challenging runs can increase the risk of falls.


  1. Skier’s Thumb


Skier’s thumb is caused by a fall or by the ski pole strap pulling on the thumb, leading to a tear or strain of the ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb.


What to Do About Them:


For a suspected skier’s thumb, initial care involves immobilisation and icing. It’s important to get the injury assessed to determine if there’s a tear that may require surgery or if rest and rehabilitation are sufficient.


Prevention Tips:


– When falling, drop the poles. Don’t try to keep hold of them.

– Ensure you’re using the ski pole straps correctly – they should not be wrapped tightly around the wrist.

– Strengthen your grip and forearm muscles through exercises like wrist curls and thumb flexion/extension.


Seeking Specialist Advice from Gav Noble Physiotherapy


If you’re unfortunate enough to sustain an injury, or if you’re aiming to bulletproof your body against the common ski-related strains and sprains, specialist advice can be the difference between a season on the slopes or one on the sidelines. At Gav Noble Physiotherapy, we don’t just offer rehabilitation – we provide a comprehensive prevention program tailored to your individual needs.


We use evidence-based practice to enhance your strength, improve flexibility, and teach proper technique. Our goal is to equip you with the tools to enjoy your skiing while keeping injury risk at a minimum. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, we can help refine your preparations for the ski season, ensuring your body is as ready as your spirit is willing.


Through a blend of hands-on therapy, education, and bespoke exercise plans, we’ll help you hit the slopes with confidence and in prime physical condition. And should an injury occur, our expertise in sports physiotherapy means you’ll be in the best hands for a swift and effective recovery, aiming to get you back on your skis as soon as safely possible.


Remember, the mountains will be there every winter – but you can only enjoy their majesty if you’re fit, healthy, and prepared. Don’t let injuries hold you back from the thrill of skiing. With the right preparation, knowledge, and support from Gav Noble Physiotherapy, you can look forward to many more seasons of alpine enjoyment.


For personalised advice, injury prevention strategies, or rehabilitation support, reach out to us at Gav Noble Physiotherapy. Let’s ensure your next ski holiday is memorable for all the right reasons!

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