We’re mid way through January and the ski season is in full flow. The number of people from the UK who are trying skiing or snowboarding is rising with over 1.3 million of us heading off to the mountains to enjoy some high energy, high adrenalin fun. Of course when taking part in a sport such as skiing it is obvious that there is a chance of injury. However, we are not simply talking about snowballing down a mountain and breaking an arm or a leg, we are talking about long-term injuries as a result of the stresses and strains placed on your body while skiing.
It is worth noting that the risks associated with skiing are actually much lower than people believe; for example the improved design of skis and bindings has meant that the number of injuries to knees have fallen in frequency, but still account for 30-40% of all alpine injuries.
We have listed below some of the common injury sites for skiers and how they might be avoided:
Injuries to the lower legs have always been common for alpine skiers as the twisted motion forced upon the knee in the case of a fall puts pressure on the joint. New technology has meant that skis are designed to reduce falls and release the foot to avoid twisting, however, an awkward fall can still twist the knee into this position.
Signs to look out for with a knee injury include:
- Obvious deformity of the knee
- Unable to bear weight
- Swelling within hours of the injury
- Severe tenderness to the injury site
Perhaps unsurprisingly the two most common causes of shoulder injuries on the slopes are falls and collisions. Shoulder injuries account for 10% of skiing injuries; however, this rate is much higher for those who prefer snowboarding. The most common injury to shoulders is dislocation which is an extremely painful injury and has an 85% reoccurrence rate, which is bad news for avid skiers.
Lesser shoulder injuries include: fracture of the clavicle (collar bone), sprains of the clavicle, fracture of the humerus and rotator cuff injuries.
Successful rehabilitation after a shoulder injury ideally demands the input of a physiotherapist as under their expert guidance the shoulder joint can be mobilised and restored to full function with minimal risk of further damage.
Upper body injuries are much more common in snowboarders than they are in skiers due to the equipment involved and the way it is used. When snowboarders fall over they do so onto a stretched out hand which can cause severe wrist injuries and fractures, the force and speed at which the fall occurs adds to the severity. There are numerous different fractures that can affect the wrist and they can occur in combination which can make the injury all the worse.
Experts have suggested that wearing a wrist guard can help to limit the effect of a fall onto the wrist but also changing the way you fall, either by falling backwards or falling forwards and allowing the more resilient elbows to take the force of the fall.
If you think you have a recurring ski injury you should drop in to see us at The Wellness Hub.