“As the days get shorter and the nights colder, winter seems like it’s just around the corner. With this comes the opportunity to dust off the skis and snowboards and start thinking about that winter trip to the mountains.
For most of us it may have been a while since you last strapped on, or clipped in. You might be thinking of how to best prepare for your time away on the slopes.
Common injuries in snowboarding or skiing generally come from a sudden trauma following a fall. Data collected from a clinic in Vermont over an 18-year period found that the most common injuries in skiing and snowboard are:
Common Snowboard injuries include wrist injuries accounting for 27.6% of all snowboard injuries (Kim et al., 2012). Other common injuries include soft tissue injuries such as muscle strains or ligament sprains to the shoulder. Followed by ankle injuries, clavicle (collar bone) fractures and concussions are of which are high up on the list of common injuries as well (Kim et al., 2012).
Common Skiing injuries are mainly located around the knees in particularly ACL injuries accounting for 17.2% of all injuries sustained whilst skiing (Kim et al., 2012). Following the ACL, MCL and LCL sprains (these are the ligaments that brace the sides of your knees) are secondary. Other common injuries include lower extremity contusions (Bruises) and tibia fractures (Kim et al., 2012) .
Ways to prevent/Protect
Both Skiing and snowboarding require strong compound muscle movements utilising the whole body, however predominately lower limb and core dominant. A typical day in the mountains consists of 5-6 hours of activity per day. Often this is the case for 5-6 days, with short breaks on the chair lift or in the Après Bar in between runs. To best prepare for your time away, getting to the gym or do some home exercises. Try to focus on lower limb strength and endurance, which will help prepare your body for long days out lapping your favourite slopes.
Core strength and stability would be another area to look at. Your core is used to maintain good body positioning under dynamic movements, and adjustments adapting to the terrain. Whether you’re carving up the piste, smashing the moguls or lapping the park, having good dynamic core strength and stability is an essential part of staying upright and maintaining balance when the ride gets bumpy.
Proprioception and balance on a variety of challenging unstable surfaces such as foam matts or BOSU balls will help improve your balance and body position awareness. Adding some unplanned movements such as medicine ball ‘catch and return’ will add some unplanned chaos to your training, making you resilient. Unplanned movements whilst maintaining balance and core control is a key skill to help you stay on your feet when you have to avoid someone on piste, or deal with those unseen bumps that can catch even the best of riders out.
Finally learning how to fall – as strange as this might sound there is a skill and art to falling over. Good falling techniques should help minimise injury risks, enabling you to not hit the ground like a ton of bricks when you do have a fall. This can be learned at martial arts centres, or free running/parkour classes, where learning how to fall over in the safest way possible is taught from the start.
The combination of improving these areas should help bullet proof you for your holiday, ensuring you get the most out of your winter trip whilst staying injury free.
How Can We Help
If you would like to get fit and prepared for the coming winter season, or are recovering from an injury and doing your best to ensure aches and niggles don’t return, we are always here to help. We can put a plan together for you with plenty of time ahead of the snow fall. If you are already in training, our sports masseuse can help keep those muscles in tip-top condition during your training program, and advise on any stretching techniques to keep on top of it at home.”
Kim, S., Endres, N., Johnson, R., Ettlinger, C. and Shealy, J., 2012. Snowboarding Injuries. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 40(4), pp.770-776.