Navigating Ski Country: Top 6 Injuries and How To Recover

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( — September 12, 2023) — If you have been skiing, you know how exhilarating and fun it is. However, there are many ski-related injuries that happen every year, especially in large skiing destinations like Denver. The good news is that most ski injuries can be treated with a combination of rest and physical therapy from a professional like Total Physical Therapy – Denver

Whether you are a seasoned skier or you’re trying this sport for the first time, you should know about the common injuries and how to recover from them just in case you get injured while skiing and having fun in the snow. 

The Most Common Skiing Injuries 

Here is a quick list of the injuries you should be aware of:

  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Head injuries including concussion and whiplash 
  • Shoulder sprains including dislocations and fractures 
  • Wrist and thumb fractures 
  • Anterior cruciate ligament sprain or rupture 
  • Medial collateral ligament sprain or rupture 

Below we will go into more depth about some of the injuries and how they most commonly happened. 

Head Injuries 

Just like many sports, skiing can result in many different head injuries including the neck, face, and head. This is why it’s recommended you wear a real skiing helmet rather than using a bicycle helmet or another helmet you might have around. 

Wearing a real skiing helmet can ensure you are at a lower risk of head and brain injuries. The most common head injuries include concussions and whiplash. 

Wrist and Thumb Injuries 

If you’re like most people, you will stick your arms out when you fall as if to try and catch yourself. However, putting your arms out then means your wrists and thumbs will often become injured because they are absorbing the main impact of the fall. 

You can also get what they call skier’s thumb which is when you put your hand out to catch your fall but you still have the ski pole in your hand. The thumb will then become dislocated or sprained. 

Shoulder Injuries 

The same thing happens with shoulder injuries as with arm and wrist injuries because a person will naturally put their arms out when they fall to try and break the impact. The resulting impact travels into the arms and can sometimes go into the shoulders. 

Shoulder injuries can be severe and can range from dislocations to sprains to bone fractures. Broken collarbones and clavicles are also common and can be very painful. 

Knee Injuries 

There are many different kinds of knee injuries that you can suffer from including ACL and MCL injuries. Knee injuries are the most common out of all skiing injuries so you need to make sure you are caring for your knees as you ski. 

The ACL and MCL are ligaments that attach the thigh bone to the skin bone and are part of the knee joint. The cartilage pads found in the knee joint can also be affected. 

Knee injuries happen for a number of different reasons including falling directly on them or when the knee becomes injured because the binding between the ski and the ski boot does not release. This causes your body weight to sink into the knees and it causes a lot of pain and injuries. 

As with all sports, skiing can also cause breaks and fractures to any of the bones in the feet, ankles, and lower legs. 

Why Do Skiing Accidents Happen? 

Skiing accidents happen for a number of different reasons. Here are some of the top reasons why someone might suffer from a skiing accident:

  • Not warming up before hitting the slopes 
  • Not taking skiing lessons 
  • Collisions 
  • Ski equipment that does not fit well or is damaged 
  • Not paying attention to or misunderstanding the signs on the ski lifts and slopes 
  • Taking large risks while skiing such as going too fast or skiing in an area with many obstacles

Treatment and Recovery from Skiing Injuries 

If you have a skiing injury, you will need to get medical treatment. Make sure you go to the hospital or clinic as soon as you get injured as this can minimize the damage. The doctors and nurses you see will probably do a number of different things including X-rays, MRIs, and other examinations. 

The injury and the severity of it will determine what your treatment is. Once you have been cleared for recovery, you will most likely need to see a physical therapist who can walk you through a number of different exercises and techniques to ensure your knee or other body part is able to operate the same way as before the injury. 

You might also be prescribed pain medications or other medicines depending on the injury. 

Preventing Ski Injuries 

Before you begin skiing, make sure you practice some of the following tips to ensure you are preventing injuries as much as possible:

  • Take ski lessons. If you are a beginner or have never skied before, it will definitely benefit you to take some lessons so you can learn the techniques. 
  • Stay fit. During the summer and spring when you cannot ski, make sure you are staying fit in other ways so that your core and body muscles do not become weak. 
  • Warm-up. Before getting on the ski lift, make sure you warm up your muscles and stretch to prepare your body for the exercise you’re about to do. 
  • Take notice of your equipment. All skiing equipment needs to be in good condition and it needs to fit you properly. Whether you are buying or renting equipment, make sure the person measures and fits you well for skis, poles, and boots. Make sure all clothing is windproof and waterproof. 
  • Never drink and ski. Even if you’re on vacation, never drink and then go skiing. You should also avoid skiing when you are hungover, tired, and generally not feeling well. 

Final Thoughts 

Most ski injuries are related to the shoulders, knees, and wrists. Skiing injuries can be very painful which is why it’s important to always get treatment including physical therapy.