Changes in modern ski equipment, improvements in slope design, and maintenance helped reduced the incidence of serious injuries. However, we must take note that there are still a significant number of ski injuries that can possibly occur during your ski trips.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), studies have showed that major of injuries that occur to skiers are sprains, fractures, lacerations and dislocations. At present, injury to the ligaments of the knee is a more common injury that occurs to skiers.
Several studies have shown that the most common injury to the knee is the damage to the medial collateral ligament (MCL). Physical therapist Jennifer Lewis of Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix, Arizona explains that “MCL injuries occur when a sudden force or twisting motion is applied to the outside of the knee forcing the knee inward, most often when the foot is planted on the ground.” Usually, all degrees of MCL sprains can be managed with bracing and limited range of movement.
Another type of knee injury is the damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). ACSM explains that the injury occurs when the lower leg is suddenly twisted away from the upper leg as in “catching the edge.” Usually, this injury is triggered by a backward fall as the lower leg moves forward. This type of injury often requires surgical repair and extensive rehabilitation.
According to ACSM, 30 to 40 percent of all injuries are caused by the injuries to the upper extremities. The most vulnerable part of the upper body is the thumb. Injury to the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb occurs when a skier falls on an outstretched arm that is still gripping the pole. The thumb is suddenly pulled outward, injuring this joint. Sprains of the thumb are graded as first degree, second degree or third degree depending on how severe the damage to the ligament is. It may just be a thumb, but when an injury to a thumb is not attended to properly, it can result to long-term disability.
Another injury in the upper extremities is the dislocation of the shoulder. After rehabilitating the dislocated shoulder, protection of the joint to avoid recurrence is important. Despite rehabilitation programs design to strengthen the shoulder, dislocation is still possible. Surgical repairs are often necessary to repair dislocated joints to restore its functional state.
According to ACSM, skiing should be stopped if it causes further pain. In case of injuries during a ski vacation, just remember this initial first aid: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. They also recommend that injuries should be properly evaluated and treated by appropriate medical personnel. In addition, performing sport specific exercises will help delay muscle fatigue which often contributes to the injury.
Moreover, they also advise taking lessons to increase one’s skiing ability and appreciation of varying ski conditions. Likewise, good equipment that is properly fitted and maintained by a certified ski shop will minimize risks. Skiers who understand the risks of the sport have greater chances of avoiding any serious injuries.
With the enhanced equipment used in skiing, the risk of getting serious injuries on ski trips is minimal. However, let’s not forget that certain injuries can still happen if we do not observe proper safety measures.