Every year, tens of thousands of skiers and snowboarders enjoy snow sports. Although they can be safe, snow sports also come with injury risks. Only few prepare for the rigorous physical demands of these sports. Improper preparation, varied snow conditions, or poor judgment raises the risks of snow sport injuries. Proper physical preparation, right equipment, and of course, common sense can help prevent many injuries.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Winter brings enjoyment, but as well as injuries in the snow. Skiing and snowboarding demand a high physical effort. They are both strenuous activities that require strong muscles, supple calves, and good balance. An injury on a winter holiday can be frustrating especially if it stops you from skiing or snowboarding.
Common Snow Sport Injuries and Risks
Dislocations, fractures, sprains and strains are the most common specific injuries. Many of these injuries happen at the end of the day, when people overexert themselves to finish that one last run before the day’s end. Other injuries result from performing difficult techniques, stress, fatigue, poor conditioning, lack of practice, improper gear, environmental conditions, technical errors, and being young or new into sport.
In an article by Steenstrup et al. in 2011 British Journal of Sports Medicine, injury rates were compared during qualification runs in World Cup snowboard cross and ski events. Injury rates in the finals runs were much higher than qualification runs. This suggests that the fierce level of competition may entail higher injury rates and that it could be related to higher physical fatigue and stress levels in the athletes or that only athletes with exceptional skills made the finals and they attempted more difficult manoeuvres.
Another article from the same journal by Bakken et al. showed that the biggest cause of the injury in World Cup Snowboard Cross was due to a technical error at take-off before a jump. A similar video analysis by Bere et al. also found that skier technique is one of the biggest contributing factors to injury risk. Strategy and environmental conditions were also shown as other factors.
A large case control study by Sulham, which includes people involved in alpine skiing, telemark skiing, and snowboarding, showed that independent injury risk factors were being a snowboarder, being a novice and being a child or adolescent.
How to Prevent Injury During Winter Activities
Keeping a good physical and mental condition and stopping when tired or in pain can easily prevent most snow sport injuries.
Other ways to prevent injury are to gear up and upgrade skill. Using proper equipment and knowing how to use it goes a long way towards keeping safe. Getting some lessons whether you are a beginner or refresher could save you a nasty injury that might keep you off the slopes for a long period.
If you are preparing for skiing or snowboarding, visiting a physiotherapist will help you prepare and condition your body to reduce the risk of injury. Always listen to your body. If you are in pain, it is best to see your physiotherapist for your injuries.
Talk to any of our Perth physiotherapists at 9444 8729 if you need help with your injury or if you need to prepare for your upcoming winter sport. A snow sport is enjoyed most when you are in good condition and injury-free.