With mountain sports like skiing and snowboarding, which you may only do once a year, you need to prep your body for the movements it’s not accustomed to doing regularly, like the unnatural snow plough! Your muscles may not be as ready for the hill as they could be. It will be a physically challenging return to the mountain, so to make the most of your skiing (and apres of course) make sure you're fully prepped and raring to go!
Top 5 Snowboarding Injuries
With snowboarding, there are more upper extremity injuries to wrists, arms and shoulders. In fact, 59% of snowboard injuries are to the upper extremities and 61% of these are to the wrist, hand or thumb. This is because with two feet strapped to the board and no poles, as with skiing, snowboarders are likely to reach out and break the fall with their arms.
Wrists are the most common injury in snowboarding (22% of all snowboarding injuries!), as riders use them to break a fall, say if they have caught an edge and fall backwards, it's a natural response to reach back to catch yourself, often resulting in damage as the force through the structures is greater at speed. 78% of these injuries involve a fracture, usually to the distal radius.
Left arm fractures are more likely than right as most boarders are 'regular' rather than 'goofy' (they ride with their left foot forward) so they reach out with their left arm to break their fall, which can result in humeral fracture.
Shoulder injuries can be rife amongst faster riders fractures and dislocations because falling at speed on an already abducted and externally rotated arm can cause acromioclavicular joint separations, clavicle fractures and shoulder dislocations.
Lower extremity injuries are more likely to happen to more advanced boarders when landing jumps:
Ankle sprains and fractures usually on the lead (typically left) foot. ACL tears can occur after landing on flat terrain with a flexed knee or propelling along flat terrain with one leg out of the binding.
Snowboarders (LPT) fracture is a unique injury snowboarders get, accounting for 15% of all snowboarding injuries. It’s a fracture to the bone protruding from the side of the ankle (lateral prominence of the talus) which can result from a sudden transition to the toe edge (dorsiflexion) with load, say after landing a jump.
Top 5 Ski Injuries
Lower extremity incidents are more prevalent in skiers, with this often being to the knee ligament. This is because most of the movement comes from the legs and knees, and in falls, skis can twist the leg in awkward and unnatural directions.
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is the most common rupture. This is the anterior cruciate ligament which runs down the back of your knee. ACLs happen when the bones of the legs twist in opposite directions, for instance, when pivoting or jumping and landing. If you do tear your ACL, you'll know about it! An accompanying popping sound will occur with swelling, instability and pain!
MCL (medial collateral ligament) can also be vulnerable with ski moves, particularly stopping and turning vigorously.
Calf and shin injuries such as achilles ruptures or tibial fractures often due to ill fitting bindings.
Ankle sprains can occur as a lot of the forces are towards the front side of the lower leg so a lot of pressure is on the ankle.
Upper extremity injuries, for example “skier’s thumb”, can happen in falls if a skier reaches out with their arm to break the fall but still have their ski pole in their hand. This can cause a ligament tear in the thumb to the ulnar collateral ligament at the metacarpal phalangeal joint, responsible for pinching or gripping. It causes chronic instability and swelling.
Injury Prevention - Our Top 5 Ski Prep Exercises
Of course, whilst it's good to know about the potential injuries on the mountain, you want to do everything you can to prevent them. An effective way to do this is by scheduling in pre-snow sport exercises into your daily routine. Train your body with key exercises so you are less likely to sustain injury.
We spoke to Amanda Pirie, top ski coach from the ski club of Great Britain, and these were her top 5 recommended ski exercises.
Sidestepping whilst in a semi squat with a stretch band around thighs, just above knees. This will work out your iliotibial band and quads, used in ski turns.
Rear leg lunges alternately, crossing over so the back leg ends up the other side of the opposite leg. To increase this exercise, add a med ball and twist your torso in the opposite direction. This works out your glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles (gastrocs) and internal obliques if you add the med ball.
Jump onto a box or small object and not fall off (balance). Repeat. To make it more challenging, try jumping with one leg. This helps your knee and the structures surrounding it prepare for taking load when you hit those challenging downhills.
Side steps under a hurdle (smaller than you) holding a load, practices lateral and vertical movement at the same time, working quads, glutes, abductors, adductors.
In an open doorway with your lateral side leaning on the frame, lean, preferably in skis, to one side against the resistance, raise inner ski. Could also lean on one end of a weighted barbell pushing diagonally down against the floor to create the same resistance. Improves abductors specifically, glutes, TFL (tensor fasciae latae) psoas and piriformis.
The intention of the preparatory ski exercises is to be dynamic so that at the same time you are reawakening muscles you may not have worked out for a while, you are also recreating positions you will be adopting on the piste.
Injury Prevention and Recovery - How can Osteopathy help?
If you’re suffering from an ongoing niggle or old injury that you fear might raise its ugly head, then get it checked out by your osteopath before you go on your trip. Old injuries leave the body in a sensitised state that is more prone to re-injury and likely to flare-up unannounced even with minimal load on the tissues, possibly ruining your holiday. If you’re lacking flexibility then you’re at an increased risk of straining or pulling something, often distant to the area of impact - you’ll be surprised how many rib and back injuries we see from ungainly slips getting off the lifts!
Osteopathy can also help in musculoskeletal recovery so if you are unfortunate enough to have any of the above injuries then get it checked out sooner rather than later. With fractures, it's important to wait 6 weeks before starting osteopathic rehab on surrounding structures. Get in touch if you’re concerned.
We have a dedicated Sports Clinic at Core Clapton. Find out more about it here.
For more information call and speak to one of our osteopaths on 0300 561 0161, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Wellness Classes will also help with recovery and rehabilitation. Take advice from your GP on when you should return to exercising. Your yoga teacher will take you through variations on exercises to avoid any issues the injury may bring up or offer alternative poses with extra equipment.
We offer weekly yoga classes, to check out our schedule click here.