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5 Common Injuries that Skiers & Snowboarders Experience

Skiing, Snowboarding, and Physical Therapy

Winter sports season is among us! Snowboard and skiing are among the top sport and recreational activities that can cause injuries that are severe enough to require medical attention. The good news is that a physical therapist can not only work on rehabilitating an injury, but they can help you prep and prevent future injuries.

Ski and snowboard season tends to flood mountains with people eager to hit the slopes.  While both activities can be dangerous if you don’t use the proper techniques, skiing tends to be safer than snowboarding as you have more stability and control over your body.

What are some common injuries?

  • Wrist injuries: Falls are the most common cause of wrist fractures and sprains. These injuries are caused when snowboarders lose their balance or catch an edge and attempt to break the fall with their hands.
    • Tip: Wear wrist guards. To avoid wrist injuries try to remember not to extend your hands out when you’re falling and always ride in control.
  • Ankle Sprains and Fractures: Both ankle sprains and ankle fractures are more common in snowboarders than in skiers, mainly due to equipment differences.
    • Tip: Hard-shell, rather than soft-shell boots, may be more likely to protect against ankle sprains.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Snowboarding is considered an “extreme sport” and enthusiasts often push the limits of their ability doing tricks on half pipes and jumps. Although still relatively rare, the incidence of serious spinal injuries is on the rise.
    • Tip: Wear a helmet and take lessons from a qualified instructor. Avoid attempting stunts without proper instruction, practice, and protection.
  • Head Injuries: While head injuries account for only a small number of total injuries among skiers and snowboarders, they are the number one cause of death and serious injury for people engaged in these sports.
    • Tip: Helmets do little to reduce the risk of concussion, but they do prevent more catastrophic injuries like skull fractures. The most important things to remember to avoid head injuries are to ride within your ability, be aware of other skiers and riders on the mountain, and always feel as though you can make a quick stop if someone pops out of nowhere.
  • ACL injuries are at higher risk for people who go skiing. This typically occurs when the feet are pointing in one direction, but the body twists in another.
    • Tip: Make sure you have done some squats, deadlifts, and balance training prior to skiing or riding. These will help you sustain the loads impacted on the body during these fun and aggressive sports.

It’s always a good idea when first learning how to ski or snowboard to start slow, and take it easy. If possible, lessons from a seasoned skier/snowboarder are encouraged. Don’t be afraid to start on the bunny hill! This hill is designed for people just learning how to control their body and their skis/snowboard. The best thing you can do to prevent injuries is to start slow and build up to higher-level slopes.

How can Physical Therapy help?

These two winter spots require your full body in order to prevent injury. By ensuring you have a strong core, legs, and balance, you can help yourself succeed on the mountain. Physical therapy is a great way to assist you during your winter adventures! Here are a few things physical therapy can treat in the unfortunate event that you do injure yourself:

  • Concussion – Physical Therapy is often very beneficial following a concussion. Research shows both faster and more complete recovery when those who have sustained a concussion come to physical therapy.
  • Ankle sprains – Combined manual therapy, balance training, and strengthening are integral parts of recovery following ankle sprains. Those who have had a previous ankle sprain are at least 4x as likely to sprain that ankle again. You can reduce recurrent injury by ensuring full recovery and strength in physical therapy.
  • ACL injuries – Physical therapy is an integral part of recovery after ACL surgery and is also key if one chooses not to have surgery done. Physical Therapists can also discuss brace recommendations for returning to skiing following knee injuries.

Do you have additional questions on how physical therapy can help your winter sports season? Click the book an appointment button above, or give our clinic a call today to learn more!