Finally, the ski season is upon us and we can dust off the skis, boots, and bindings and prepare for a powder-driven season! However, skiing and snowboarding are high-impact sports that send your body careening down a mountain at high speeds, so it’s important to take measures to reduce your risk of injury. Luckily, there are certain exercises you can do to help reduce your risk of injury while skiing or snowboarding.

What’s my chance of injury and why should I consider an injury prevention program?

While injury risk is quite low across skiing and snowboarding at approximately 1-6 injuries for every 1000 ski days, the type of injury can be traumatic and involve a long rehab. For instance, as a skier, the lower limb is the most common area of injury, with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, a severe knee injury that exceeds 12 months of rehabilitation affecting 17% of all lower limb ski injuries. In contrast, snowboarders tend to suffer upper limb injuries, with 27% affecting the wrist-many traumatic fractures!

When you factor in the cost of a season pass, equipment, and lessons, not to mention the pain and suffering of an injury that could sideline you for an extended period of time, it only makes sense to do what you can to prevent an injury from happening in the first place.

The following exercises target key areas known to be prone to injury in both skiing and snowboarding. These exercises should be performed 2-3 times per week for 4-6 weeks prior to hitting the slopes.

So, how can you best prepare for the season?

Injuries typically occur because the musculoskeletal system is unable to sustain or accommodate the load imposed on it, either via trauma (e.g. fall on the wrist) or lack of strength. Hence, reducing risk and preparing for what your musculoskeletal system needs to do is important to reduce sports injuries on the slopes.

The following exercises target key areas known to be prone to injury in both skiing and snowboarding. These exercises should be performed 2-3 times per week for 4-6 weeks prior to hitting the slopes.

Exercises:

Spanish Squats: These work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes and help to improve balance. Start with your feet together and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Extend your arms out in front of you for balance. Complete 2-3 x 6 reps holding 30 seconds for each repetition.

Single leg ¼ split squat: These work your quads and glutes and help build overall leg strength. Start in a split squat position with your back leg elevated on a bench or box. From here, lower down folding through your hip, knee, and ankle. Complete 4 sets x 12 reps per leg. 

Leg press: This exercise works your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Start in a seated position on a leg press machine. From here, press the weight up extending your legs fully before returning to the starting position. Complete 4 sets x 8 reps with a heavy load.

Bosu split hops: These work your quads and calf muscles and help with balance and coordination. Start in a split squat position on a Bosu ball with your back leg elevated. From here, jump up switching the positions of your legs in mid-air before landing in a split squat with the opposite leg elevated. Complete 4 sets x 6 repetitions.  

Side-to-side jumps: These work your quads and calf muscles and help with balance and coordination. Start by standing on both legs and rising onto your toes. Jump up in the air and split your legs outwards to the side landing on your toes. Do not let your heels touch the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat. Complete 2 sets x 15-20 repetitions. 

Can a physiotherapist help with injury prevention for skiing or snowboarding? 

Melbourne CBD Physiotherapy is fortunate to have many experienced physiotherapists who not only ski and snowboard in their leisure time in Australia and abroad, but has completed strength and conditioning qualifications relevant for ski and snowboard sports.  .

If you are interested in Ski or Snowboard injury prevention, our team of expert physiotherapists can help get you started on an individualized program to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for the season. 

 

 

References 

Stenroos A, Handolin L: Incidence of recreational alpine skiing and snowboarding injuries: Six years experience in the largest ski resort in Finland. Scand J Surg 2014;0:1-5. 

Kim S, Endres, NK, Johnson RJ,  Ettlinger CF, andShealy JE:  Snowboarding injuries: trends over time and comparisons to alpine skiing injuries. Am J Sports Med 2012; 40 (4): 770-76.  

Exercise PhysiologyReady to ski? Stay injury-free with these exercises  
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