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Skiing Knee Injury Prevention

By / February 27, 2018

Skiing Knee Injury Prevention

Our Inland Northwest weather has given us a little more ski play time this year, (just when we thought it was over) so Apex just wanted to give you skiers some information and tips about preventing skiing-related knee injuries (since it is Knee month and all at Apex Physical Therapy).

Did you know?

  • MCL (medial collateral ligament) and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) sprains/tears are the most common knee injuries in skiing. Accounting for upwards of 30% of the lower leg injuries.
  • It used to be fractures but since the introduction of releasable bindings this has decreased by 90% in the last 30 years!

Mechanisms of knee sprains:

  • MCL (medial collateral ligament): most commonly injured when a skier is in the snowplow position (pizza) and the skier falls down the hill
    • How to Avoid? Make sure your weight is balanced when you are in the snowplow position and stick to terrain that is a comfortable challenge for you but not overwhelming.
  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament): most commonly injured when a skier is landing a jump in poor form or what is called a “phantom foot” phenomenon which happens when a skier is falling and they attempt to stand up to stop the fall.
    • How to Avoid? Learn to land correctly (good form) with your weight forward and start with simple jumps eventually advancing as your skill, confidence, and movement patterns improve. To decrease “phantom foot” just accept the unavoidable fall and don’t try to stop the momentum of a fall.

Preventing Injury

  • Effective skiing technique: hands and weight forward, legs parallel (French fries), hips/knees/ankles flexing equally
  • Stay on groomed and marked trails, off road territory increases your risk of injury greatly
  • Getting your body properly ready to ski (can start now but best to do this leading up to the season in the Fall)

Getting Ski Ready

      • Exercise: a few simple but deliberate exercises (see video) can prepare your core and legs appropriately for the slopes. 3-4 weeks of some aerobic training (walking, treadmill, elliptical, or biking) can help your endurance to spend all day on the slopes. **Exercises given are just some ideas, seeking a professional to make sure you are doing these correctly and that they are appropriate for your body is always the best way to go. Evidence suggests working on posterior chain muscles and some lateral plyometrics can aid in preventing these kinds of injuries.
      • Proper Equipment: making sure your ski boots and bindings are an appropriate fit for your height and skill level (ask a ski professional). A helmet and wrist guards aren’t a bad idea especially for those snowboarders!
      • Proper Ski Technique: the mountains offer classes of varying levels which is always a good idea when starting skiing or wanting to improve your skills.
      • Rest: skiing is fatiguing and injuries occur most often when your body is tired.