Special thanks to the Chiropractic Sports Institute for this article!
How do you avoid flying down the mountain in an out of control, body parts and equipment all tangled up? Don’t ski…yeh right, forget that. Maybe, if we understand how and why most of the injuries occur, we can avoid some of the common mistakes, and in return, reduce our risks of injury. Also, if we know what areas of our body the Mountain wants to add to her hit list maybe we can condition ourselves better in the off season and between ski trips to avoid those expensive medical bills.
Lets start with the most common times people get hurt while skiing. According to a survey by the Swedish and Northern European ski resort owners; there is a trend in injuries. (The data they used was from day passes and 5 day passes). The results show 3 major peak injury times in a day and what day of the week you’re most likely to get injured.
- The first run of the day
- The first run after lunch
- The last run of the day
- The third day of skiing
Lets look at each topic and find out how and why we get hurt during these times. The first run of the day skiers are usually in too much of a hurry and don’t take the time to warm up properly. Other reasons for this A.M. catastrophe are the equipment isn’t adjusted properly. We are always in a hurry to hit the slopes that we at times forget to do an equipment check. Always take a few minutes before the start of the day to do a full equipment check on your boards/skis, boots and bindings. Another time of injury that can be avoided is after lunch. Picture this: your having some awesome runs, the speed is getting higher and you’re on top of your form. Then you take a break for lunch. You sit down, eat a big meal, maybe drink a few beers. You then hit the slopes again with a mind that is ready but a body that is not. Same speed, no warm-up, and the blood is in your stomach instead of in your skiing muscles. The third item is that last run or “come on, just one more!” The run your body was saying no but your mind was saying “just one more”. The third day is usually the day that the skiing has finally caught up with your body. Your muscles are sore, the spring has sprung, and you are usually mentally worn out. Take the morning off, stretch, have a nice breakfast and ski half day or try a different mountain activity.
To lessen your chances of disaster perform a proper warm up before skiing and after lunch. This should consist of gently stretching the hamstrings (back of the leg), quadriceps (front of the leg), shoulders, neck (NEVER roll your neck) and low back. Following this the skier should do some exercises to get the blood flowing throughout the body and get the heart rate up. This can be accomplished by vertical and diagonal hops. When performing the hop, keep the ankles together and use a double arm swing to leap into the air. First vertically, landing on both feet absorbing the shock by doing a deep knee bend than leap back into the air. Repeat several times then switch the vertical jump with a jump side to side with a high arch. Prior to the start of the season or after a long lay off, have your equipment checked by a qualified technician. Its always a good idea to check your equipment after it has sat for a few months to make sure all the parts are lubricated and in working order. Most important, leave the EGO in the locker room and start off slow and a step down in ability from the end of last season, and quit when your tired no matter what time of day it is. If you have to question if you can do one more run don’t do it.
Your ski boots are your most important piece of ski equipment, They have to fit well for several reasons, if they don’t, skiing is not as fun and can be dangerous. I’ve seen legs broken inside a boot that was too big and foot problems from boots too small. A good fitting boot will give you comfort, control, and bring out the performance of your skis. Boots are so important that most pro and competitive skiers will hand carry their ski boots on the plane instead of checking them.
Beyond the conditioning of our equipment the athlete needs to assess their physical condition. Pre-season and season training are extremely important if you want to have a fun and safe experience on the mountain. Cardiovascular training such as aerobics, spin classes, stairmaster, hiking, swimming, and sports specific ski training are all good ways of preparing the body for skiing. A good rule of thumb is to consult your Sports Chiropractor or Orthopedist prior to beginning any form of new exercises programs. The common injuries associate with snow skiing are:
- Knee injuries
- Compression injuries to the spine, ribs, hands and feet.
- Head, neck and internal organs due to collisions with other athletes or objects on the slopes.
- Broken bones
(According to records kept at the Olympic Training Center, Co Springs, Co.)
Prior to going to the mountains, get into a good resistance and aerobic training program. You want a program that concentrates on your back, core, legs, shoulders and arms at least one month prior to your first trip, then maintain the program until you hang up your equipment for the season..
Remember, prior to going on the mountains, warm up, save the EGO’s for the lodge fire place, check and take care of your equipment, and prepare your body for the ultimate mountain experience.