by Frank V. Persall
Depending on who you ask, some would argue skiing is a way of life. And considering how amazing skiing is and the large number of people that spend an incredible amount of money on ski trips and vacations, it is not hard to see why.
In 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported there were over 76,000 injuries treated in emergency rooms and hospitals that were skiing-related injuries. There were also an additional 53, 000 injuries that were associated with snowboarding injuries.
The mere fact that there are that many ski-related injuries suggest how frequent accidents happen. This can be a result of mistakes that arise from inexperience, fear, among other reasons. This then begs the question, how do you prevent ski injuries?
There are many ways you can avoid ski injuries. While there is no denying that you can't always prevent accidents from happening in sports, you can surely put in preventive measures to reduce the possibility of them happening.
The good news is that we have some practical preventive measures that can surely help you reduce the risk of you being hurt. That said, let's get started.
Like any other sporting activity, there is a wide range of injuries that might occur while skiing. One of the most common types of injuries that occur in skiing is Knee related injury. This type of injury usually occurs on the anterior cruciate ligament.
Another common injury is dislocation and sprain of the arms and shoulder. Fractures are also pretty common. Head injuries, though they rarely occur, can be very serious when they do happen. Here are some tips to avoid common injuries while skiing:
One simple way that effectively helps prevent ski injuries is by taking ski lessons. Learning how to ski the right way is important, especially for new skiers. These lessons teach you how to fall correctly. Learning this helps reduce the risk of you getting injured even during a fall. However, even experienced skiers can learn how to fall the right way.
Protective gear is very important in any sport. They significantly reduce injuries sustained in case one does happen. Here are some tips to help you with that:
NOTE: Ensure you wear the proper helmet before skiing. Every sport has specific helmets. You don't want to wear a bike helmet while skiing.
A good place to start will be to get good equipment from the ski shop. Poorly fitting gear causes injuries that can easily result in an accident instead of protecting you. For instance, you don't need stiff ski boots to ski properly. Modern skis are designed to respond to gentle knee motions. This means it is best to get a boot that has a sole that can flex.
A perfect ski stance can greatly help you be a better skier asides from helping you keep your balance while skiing. Here are some tips to help you get the proper stance:
- Keep your knees slightly bent. Other joints such as ankles should also be bent.
- Keep both your arms forward and bent at all times.
- Make sure your feet are naturally positioned i.e. not too far apart and not too narrow. Also, ensure your head is straight and your body weight (upper body) is positioned forward.
- Do not use your ski pole straps while skiing. This makes it virtually impossible to release the poles when you do fall. Unfortunately, most ski poles come with straps attached to them.
A common mistake people make when they fall while skiing is to try to get back up as quickly as possible while on a slide. This is often mostly due to reflex but it does not.
The majority of injuries sustained during a fall can be made worse if you try to right yourself in a haste.
So, the next time you happen to fall over and you find yourself sliding down the slope, do not attempt to get back up until you completely slow down.
Fitness and conditioning are very crucial to staying safe while skiing. You need to keep your muscles just right for smooth runs down the slope. For instance, mogul skiing requires precise knee movement to keep you on your feet after sharp turns and aerial maneuvers.
A great way to train your muscles is to focus on specific exercises that will efficiently develop and build the muscles that work.
Squats are primary exercises that help build the fitness of your leg and trunk muscles. That said, we do not recommend you only engage in squats as your only fitness training routine. Combining squats with other types of body-building exercises such as weight lifting and cycling would improve your overall fitness level.
NOTE: Daily exercise, though not necessary, can help you maintain your fitness without exceeding the appropriate weight for your age.
One thing most professional and even casual skiers would tell you when asked why errors occur is that they are a result of mental errors. And rightly so!
Whether you are in top physical condition or just a beginner skier, most skiing injuries happen when you are not 100 percent focused on what you are doing. This might be by going too fast than they can handle or lapse of concentration.
NOTE: One way to avoid mental errors is to properly warm-up before taking to the slopes. By preparing yourself mentally and physically, you reduce the chance of absentmindedly making mistakes.
Another mistake that often leads to falls is improper body posture during turns. At times, skiers might squat during turns to absorb better on the landing so they can have more control of their speed.
The truth is, this can easily unbalance you which might cause some injury. By keeping your knees and ankles only slightly bent, you retain more control of your maneuvers and movement.
Drink water, as much as you can while on the slopes. Hydrating significantly improves endurance which is very important while skiing. While physical ability does play a role in how well you ski and how less likely it is that you get injured, endurance plays an important role.
However, mild levels of dehydration can affect your physical ability and fitness. This in turn affects your endurance level.
So, make sure to drink water before, during, and after you ski. Making it a routine also improves your overall fitness level alongside other physical activities you engage in.
This is easily overlooked but skiing in a safe environment greatly reduces the risk of crashes and falls that often lead to injuries. Here are some tips to ensure you ski in a safe environment:
- Only ski on marked trails. This helps you avoid potential avalanche spots, rocks, patches of ice, etc. on the slope
- Check the weather conditions and pay attention to any warning on severe temperature drops. Also, make sure you make adjustments for wet snow. This helps keep you taut and alert.
Let's be honest, no one can completely prevent accidents from happening, especially on the slopes. By preparing yourself that injuries might and can occur, you don't get caught off guard when it does happen. Here are some tips to prepare yourself:
- Ski with a partner or friend. When you do ski with one, avoid leaving them far behind or ahead of you.
- Use your good judgment while on the slopes. Do not ski when you feel fatigued. Stay hydrated to avoid getting exhausted.
- Do not attempt to execute your most difficult runs late in the day when you are possibly overextended or exhausted. Only do them when you are well warmed up.
- Seek medical attention or talk to anyone close to you if you think you are experiencing hypothermia, frostbite, or any other medical-related illness. That way you can get help as soon as possible.
- Learn proper safety rules to abide by in your ski resort. These are usually general safety rules and are mostly the same from one ski resort to the other. These rules are in place to help protect skiers. It is therefore important to follow not just for you but also for other skiers.
As you can see, there are many ways to avoid ski injuries. Each of the tips discussed above helps keep you safe and reduces the risk of accidents occurring. They also ensure injuries sustained are not as significant as they should be.
About Frank V. Persall
Frank is originally from the UK, but he has a passion for skiing that knows no bounds. He has made it his life's mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the World. Frank loves spending time with his wife and three children on ski slopes, as they all share his love for the activity.