Going skiing? Watch these knees

Can’t wait to fly down the slopes??

Warm up creaking knees before you go.

Skiing is a sport which requires a huge amount of flexibility to allow you to turn freely and stay on top of those skis. Skiing and snowboarding both use a wide range of movements that are sporadic, sudden, and potentially stressful for muscles and ligaments. The main points of focus is to be able to flex the ankles, keep the hips open and ensure the low back is free in movement. Our daily lifestyles probably don’t do much to promote this flexibility.

Though changes in modern ski equipment and improvements in slope design and maintenance have contributed to a decline in injuries, there are still a significant number of skiing injuries. Nowadays it is more common to see injuries to the ligaments of the knee. Several studies have demonstrated that the most common injury to the knee is damage to the medial collateral ligament (MCL).  Another common knee injury is rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). These injuries often require surgical repair and extensive rehabilitation. Fractures of both the femur and tibia occur more commonly with violent twisting falls or collisions. While fractures of the upper extremity are infrequent, dislocations of the shoulder are still quite common. Falling on an outstretched arm that is still gripping the pole, could suddenly pull the thumb outward, injuring this joint. This joint is the most vulnerable one of the upper body.

Many factors contribute to an individual’s potential for injury. Attention to pre-season conditioning with an emphasis on sport specific exercises will help delay muscle fatigue which often contributes to an injury.

As a lot of the work in downhill skiing relies on the legs, it is important to realize that the legs can get a great workout during the sport.

The general stance of the downhill skier is in a slight crouch, knees bent and feet together, which in itself is putting a fair amount of strain on the leg muscles, especially the large quadriceps and gluteus muscle groups. In order to stay upright the leg muscles are constantly making adjustments; stability is the key.

Don’t forget to warm up before getting on the lift. Leave static stretching behind in favor of the dynamic warm-up. By completing moves that mimic those you’ll be doing in the slopes, the body will be adequately prepared. Bodyweight exercises like the squats and lateral shuffles will elevate the heart rate while heating up the muscles and getting your joints moving effectively.

A thorough, regular active stretching routine that focuses on the low back muscles will prepare the abdominals, obliques and hips that are used in downhill skiing. As the lower body is the part that will take the most of the work involved in balancing and steering down the pistes, it is these muscle groups that need to be focused on specifically.

Make dynamic stretching exercises a priority while you are training for the sport and after a day on the mountain, you will significantly reduce the likelihood of soreness and injuries such as muscle strains and sprains.

We recommend taking lessons to increase one’s skiing ability. Additionally, good equipment that is properly fitted and maintained will minimize risks of injuries.

Skiing is a great all-round way to keep both the body and the mind healthy. Endorphins and adrenaline are released into the bloodstream, elevating mood and providing an overall sense of wellbeing and contentment. Just go for it and enjoy the snow!!

Look before you leap!!

February 17, 2014

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