With the change of seasons comes a change in the activities in which people participate. As winter approaches, some people look forward to cruising down a mountain on skis or a snowboard. However, starting the winter sport season without proper preparation can lead to unnecessary injury. Knee injuries such as medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains are the most common injuries associated with skiing,1 but other common injuries include shoulder dislocations and sprains, “Skier’s thumb,” and concussions. On the other hand, because of a difference in equipment and technique, upper extremity injuries (including fractures or sprains surrounding the wrist, elbow, and shoulder) and ankle injuries are more common than knee injuries in snowboarders.2
While we at CPRS can help with your recovery from any of these injuries, we would like to provide you with some tips to prevent them from happening in the first place.
1. Be sure that your equipment is up to date and fits properly.
2. Enter the winter sport season with a good level of aerobic fitness. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, or 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days per week. If the exercise intensity is vigorous, the ACSM recommends 20-60 minutes on at least 3 days per week. Either way, in order to achieve the endurance necessary to tolerate a whole day of activity, gradually increase your activity level prior to your first day on the slopes. And when you get tired, take a break. More injuries occur when your body is fatigued.
3. Perform a lower extremity strength training program for at least 6 weeks prior to the start of the ski season to improve your control and minimize your risk of injury. The ACSM recommends that adults perform 2-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions of exercises for all major muscle groups on 2-3 days per week. Some exercises that you may want to consider include these 3 exercises recommended in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy that target the gluteal muscles which help to control the position of your knee:3
- Single-leg bridge: Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other knee straight. Lift your buttocks off of the ground using the bent leg, until your hips are high enough so that you are in a straight line from your shoulders to the foot of your straight leg.
- Side-step: In a mini-squat, step sideways keeping your toes pointed forward. Add a stretch band around your legs above your knees to increase resistance as needed.
- Clam exercise: Lie on your side with your knees bent. Rotate your top knee upward while keeping your feet together. Add a stretch band around your legs above your knees to increase resistance as needed.
If you have any questions regarding proper preparation for winter sports, or for a personalized screen with a physical therapist to assess the specific areas where you would benefit from training, visit http://www.cprsweb.com/locations for a location nearest you.
- American Physical Therapy Association. (2016). Preventing Skiing-Related Injuries. Retrieved from http://www.moveforwardpt.com/resources/detail/preventing-skiingrelated-knee-injuries
- Young, C. C., & Niedfeldt, M. W. (1999). Snowboarding Injuries. American Family Physician, 59(1):131-136. http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0101/p131.html
- Strengthening Your Hip Muscles: Some Exercises May Be Better Than Others. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 43(2), 65. doi:10.2519/jospt.2013.0501 or http://www.jospt.org/doi/full/10.2519/jospt.2013.0501
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