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Avoiding Skiing Injuries With Proper Equipment

With many residents planning winter vacations to the ski slopes, we must consider the necessary steps to insure a safe and happy holiday. Often, unprepared skiers suffer broken bones, muscle strains or knee injuries on an otherwise enjoyable outing. While most of the ski-related injuries result from collisions or falls on the ski slope, the cold-related condition called hypothermia can also occur. The proper attire and frequent rests in the ski lodge can help prevent hypothermia and appropriate equipment can promote a safe and enjoyable ski vacation.

Factors Contributing To Skiing Injuries

  • Experience and ability. Skiers with more experience seem to suffer from fewer injuries.
  • Type/Function of ski equipment. The selection of proper bindings is critical to injury avoidance.
  • Female skiers have a greater tendency toward lower extremity injuries.
  • Younger skiers are more likely to be injured than older skiers.
  • Fatigue from skiing extended periods can lead to injuries.
  • Snow conditions can influence the type of injuries sustained.

Maintaining Safe Equipment

While it is noted that younger, less experienced skiers often suffer from more injuries than older, more veteran athletes, all skiers can avoid certain injuries through the use of proper equipment. For example, experts say ski bindings, the parts of the ski equipment that release under stress to prevent injuries, are one of the most important tools for ski safety. So when selecting equipment, athletes should examine their skill level and particular needs. For example, a beginner who tends to fall frequently should choose bindings which release in numerous directions. This type of binding can also be used for a skier who has already experienced a lower extremity strain, such as an injury to the knee. To safeguard against injuries, skiers should not set their bindings high if they believe the equipment has released prematurely in the past. Inadvertent releases don't occur very often and the tightening can lead to other injuries. When selecting equipment, keep in mind that old or used equipment is often outdated in mechanical design and has frequently been poorly maintained.

Skiers should also consider safety and comfort when selecting boots. When testing a boot in the store, simulate skiing motions and look for pressure points. While on the slopes, though tempted to loosen the boot to prevent pain, doing so can lead to less control and potential danger. Skis and ski poles part of the necessary equipment for a skiing excursion can also lead to injuries. For example, the sharp edge of a ski can lead to cuts on the face or body during a fall. Maintaining the grasp of a ski pole can also lead to a thumb injury.

Pre-Season Fitness Promotes Safety

Considering the spectrum of potential injuries, it is important for alpine skiers to approach the slopes with an existing level of fitness. With alpine skiing requiring cardio-vascular fitness, sustained muscle contractions and overall flexibility, skiers who have a current exercise regimen can prevent unwanted injuries and fatigue. Experts advise skiers to start a well-rounded fitness plan including components of endurance work, isotonic muscle exercises, isokinetic exercises and flexibility regimens. Without proper training and the practice of safety techniques, skiers are susceptible to lower extremity injuries, primarily in the knee. Skiers should avoid full bending and flexing of the knee and attempt to keep skis together during a fall. Overall, experts advise skiers to stay centered over their skis to prevent knee-related injuries.

With the proper planning, all skiers planning winter excursions to the slopes can avoid potential injuries. Remember that appropriate equipment and pre-season conditioning can contribute to an ?????.

Therapy Services Associates
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2700 N Grimes
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-4129
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Located inside Nor Lea Hospital
1600 N Main
Lovington, NM 88260
(575) 396-5227
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We serve Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico, as well as Yoakum and Gaines Counties in West Texas.