Most Common Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries
Winter time is here! The wind may be a tad strong and the temperatures may be slightly colder but you know what that means? More snow! This season brightens the eyes of many skiers and snowboarders. With a short drive, one can end up on mountain heaven. This year especially, our mountains have been packed with fresh snow, perfect for all ages of fun. But don’t let the fluffy snow and breathtaking mountains distract you from the dangers that skiing and snowboarding can have. Research states that 3/1000 skiers/snowboarders get injured a day when on the slopes. Those under the age of 18 have three times as much risk of injury. Also, even though it is known that woman tend to have a slightly higher risk of injury in general, injuries in men tend to have increased severity. Injuries on the slopes both affect lower limbs such as knees, and upper limbs such as wrists and thumbs (most prominent in snow boarders).
Here are the top five most common skiing and snowboarding injuries to keep an eye out for and how to avoid them.
1. Knee Ligament Injuries:
These injuries create about 1/3 of skiing injuries. An MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) sprain or tear is the most common knee injury that is caused by twists in the knee. Another common knee injury is the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tear. Injuries that use to be associated with the ankle and shin have now caused ACL tears. This is because ski boots and bindings have created improvements to help prevent shin fractures and ankle injuries. Yet, these improvements and their release mechanisms can not catch or prevent a sudden sharp twist of the knee causing an ACL injury. Today, research shows that MCL and ACL injuries have dramatically increased over the past couple years.
What do you do?
The best thing at this moment is to keep cautious of sharp turns, enhance the quad muscle, and wear a knee brace when hitting the slopes.
2. Snowboarder’s Ankle:
This injury is a fracture of the outside Talus bone of the ankle shown on snowboarders. It’s causation is a high energy ankle sprain but can be hard to discover. This is because they are not always seen on x-rays. Symptoms include high, constant ankle pain. A CT scan can confirm prognosis.
What to do?
Increase you balance and proprioceptin using a wobble board. Proprioceptin is what helps your ankle heal fast when you roll or injure it. Other tips are to wear a sports brace and ankles that go above the ankle so they help border and restrain the ankle.
3. Skier’s Thumb:
About 10% of skiing injuries end up being skier’s thumb. This is when a skiier suffers a fall with a ski pole in hand. The pole snatches in the snow and levers into the inside of the thumb. This is dangerous as is causes the thumb to overextend and ultimately hurts the Ulnar collateral ligament creating a sprain or rupture.
What can you do?
Avoid putting your hands into the ski pole loops unless absolutely necessary. Also thumb stabilizers help protect the thumb ligaments without restricting range of motion.
More on skiers thumb
4. Wrist Fractures:
When someone falls, their first instinct is usually to reach out to break their fall. This action, most common in beginners, is actually quite dangerous as it can cause Scaphoid fractures and Colles fractures in the wrist. Statistically, there are about 100,000 wrist fractures around the world with snowboarders each year.
What can you do?
Wrist guards, found in ski shops, help reduce the chance of wrist injury during falls.
5. Head and Spinal Injuries:
These less common injuries are still important to keep out for. They’re usually caused through collisions into trees, lift towers, rocks, other skiers/boarders, and chair lift incidents. They also tend to me more frequent in confident skiers such as males who strive for speed.
What can you do?
Research on helmets tend to be mixed but we still highly recommend them for intermediate skiers and snowboarders at the very least. One fall, one bump, can be just enough to start a concussion.
As fun as skiing and snowboarding is, nobody likes to get hurt. One injury can put a person our for months. Taking a few treatments of physical therapy can be all you need to prevent any injuries when speeding down the slopes!
At Lilly Physical Therapy, we promote healthy living. We not only help our patients gain the strength and abilities they need to workout and continue their favorite hobbies, but we heal and help them become stronger and healthier versions of themselves. Come in today and make sure you’re in tip top shape for those mountains!
Call us today for more information or to set up an evaluation!