Tami Griffith – It is that time of year again, snow sport season: Are you prepared?
November 29, 2009
Snow sports are part of life here in the mountains for the locals as well as the visitors from other parts of the United States and abroad.
Snow sport injuries occur starting on the opening day of ski season. Improvement of ski equipment as well as grooming of the slopes have helped with some reported injuries.
However, one study has indicated there has been an increase in some injuries including knee, and axial (head, chest, ribs, back, and pelvis) areas.
What are the most common injuries noted?
The most common area affected in skiing accidents are the knees. According to some studies, 35 percent of all ski injuries involve the knee. The body is moving forward at a high rate of speed and the feet and ankles are locked in the skis. The MCL or medial collateral ligament is the most common knee injury in the beginner and intermediate skier. This category of skier often uses the “snowplow” maneuver and this places stress on the inside of the knee.
The ACL or anterior cruciate ligament injury is seen with advanced skiers. This often has to do with the fall technique.
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One of the most common snowboard injuries involve the wrist. Many snowboarders have their hands open when they fall and this results in injury to the wrist area. There is also an increase in the injury to the snowboarder’s foot and ankle. The lead foot receives injuries twice as many injuries as the back foot due to positioning of the feet.
There are an estimated 135,000 ski-related injuries annually and of those, an estimated 3,537 are head injuries. While some head injuries occur due to falls, ski lift accidents, and equipment failure, most head trauma is due to collision with a stationary object.
How can injuries be prevented?
Wear a helmet. Several ski resorts are now requiring helmets to be worn while skiing. Helmets dissipate energy from an impact and help protect the head from absorbing the total force of the blow.
Be physically fit. Attend core fitness classes before ski season actually begins. Continue with core training even after ski season begins. The core muscles – deep abdominal muscles – are used to help with balance.
Perform stretching exercises before skiing. It is important to stretch your hamstring muscles to prevent injury as well as other muscle groups.
Have your bindings checked. According to some experts, you should have new bindings every 3-4 years.
Make sure you have proper fitting boots.
Make sure you have the proper ski length. Talk with a ski pro and get their advice. Shorter skis are easier to turn and control yet they are less stable at high speeds. The newer skis with side cut are great but they may cause more twisting injuries to the knees.
Wear goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays, wind, snow, and other foreign objects while skiing.
Do not use the straps on your ski poles, this can cause injury in a fall.
Drop your poles if you fall.. Falling with a ski pole in hand can cause injury to the ligaments in the thumb.
Keep your eye on the terrain and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Watch out for the other guy.
Have a safe and great ski season.
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