Preventing Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries

As winter arrives, snowy slopes will beckon skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts to embark on thrilling adventures. At Tchejeyan Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, however, the season also means that we will see some of these snow-sports enthusiasts hobbling into our clinic to deal with injuries they have sustained pursuing their winter hobbies. 

Skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports are terrific fun. Still, like any rigorous physical endeavor, they carry with them the risk of injury. Here is a short rundown of the most common orthopedic injuries we see that are associated with skiing and snowboarding, along with remedies and preventive measures to ensure a safer, injury-free winter sports season.

Common Injuries from Snow Sports

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears: Among the most prevalent injuries, ACL tears occur when the ligament that stabilizes the knee is overstressed or torn. Skiers often experience this injury due to a sudden twisting motion or hard landing. Treatment may involve physical therapy and, in severe cases, surgical reconstruction.
  • Fractured Bones: Snowboarders and skiers can fracture various bones, especially the shin (tibia), wrist, collarbone, and shoulder, due to falls and collisions. Depending on the extent of the injury, immobilization, casting, or surgery might be necessary.
  • Knee Meniscus Tears: Meniscus tears are common, particularly among skiers, caused by sudden pivots or twists. Treatment options include physical therapy and arthroscopic surgery for more severe cases.
  • Sprains and Strains: Ligament and muscle injuries such as strains or sprains s occur frequently in both skiing and snowboarding. These injuries may require rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) for recovery, followed by physical therapy.

When you injure yourself, getting a prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment are vital if you expect to make a full recovery; early intervention often leads to better outcomes. Injuries might range from minor and temporary inconveniences to major injuries needing surgery and months of rehabilitation. A physical examination and imaging tests can enable an orthopedic specialist to assess precisely what therapy will be required to restore your health and mobility.

Prevention Strategies

One of the reasons injuries occur with winter sports is that people often neglect to prepare for the new season. Just because you were tearing up the slopes last March does not mean you can start the season where you left off eight months ago. Snow sports, in particular, can use muscles and movements distinct from other athletic activities undertaken throughout the rest of the year, and people often overestimate their ability to handle the shift with ease. While the allure of conquering the slopes is irresistible, if you want to minimize your risk of injury, here are some valuable practices to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter sports season:

  • Warm-Up and Stretch: Proper warm-up exercises prepare your muscles and joints for the rigorous demands of skiing and snowboarding. Stretching improves flexibility, reducing the risk of strains and sprains to the muscles.
  • Protective Gear: Wearing appropriate protective gear is essential. Helmets, knee and wrist guards, braces, and padding significantly reduce the risk of head injuries, fractures, and sprains.
  • Maintain Your Equipment: Before heading out, check your equipment, and regularly check your equipment throughout the season to ensure it stays in good working condition. Skis and snowboards should be appropriately tuned, and bindings should be adjusted and tightened to your specifications.
  • Ease Into It: As great as it is to return to the mountains, don’t expect to spend all day on the slopes if you haven’t adequately conditioned yourself. When your muscles are tired, you cannot move well and react quickly, increasing your likelihood of getting injured. 
  • Know Your Limits: Even if you are a hot dog, avoid attempting tricks or terrains at the beginning of the season until you regain your “sea legs.” Progress gradually and get your ski and snowboarding muscles back into shape before moving up to the next level. 
  • Stay Hydrated: Cold weather can deceive you into thinking you’re not sweating as much, but staying hydrated is crucial. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, affecting your coordination and increasing the risk of injuries.
  • Follow the Rules: Respect the rules and guidelines of the ski resort or slope you’re on. These rules are imposed specifically to maintain a safe environment for all participants.
  • Buddy System: Whenever possible, ski or snowboard with a friend. In an emergency, having someone there to help can be a lifesaver.
  • Weather and Slope Conditions: Be aware of weather conditions and the conditions of the slopes. Ice and poor visibility increase the likelihood of accidents. Always use caution and adapt your style accordingly.

Snowboarding or Skiing Injury? Come to TJN Ortho

As the winter season approaches and the mountains call, remember that preventing skiing and snowboarding injuries is crucial for a memorable and injury-free season of fun. By following good practices, you can significantly reduce your risk of injury.

At TJN Ortho in Thousand Oaks, California, we specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries to the knee, hip, and other joints or bones from sports. If you do find yourself experiencing an injury while skiing or snowboarding, our team is here to provide you with the care and expertise needed for a swift and effective recovery. If you need effective healthcare this season, contact TJN Ortho and Sports Medicine.