person skiing down mountain
Adventure Activities for the Winter Sportsman

Tips to Reduce Knee Injuries When Skiing

Keeping fit is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s through aerobic exercise, strength training, or participating in sports, activity is essential for the body and reinvigorating for the mind.

Skiing is a popular pastime for active adults who enjoy sports. The United States has 472 ski resorts operating and participation in skiing in 2017 was just about 15 million.

However, with any strenuous sport or activity, injuries are bound to happen. In fact, John Hopkins said nearly an estimated 600,000 skiers and snowboarders are injured annually. Skiing injuries can limit your ability to exercise as well as enjoy everyday activities. To avoid injuries due to skiing incidents, you need to take preventative steps.

If you’re already dealing with knee pain, check out these braces and supports.

What are common skiing injuries?

When you’re skiing, you could injure yourself just about anywhere. However, the knees are often the main area to suffer injury. Here are some of the other places and ways you may get injured during skiing.

Injured Wrists

Often times when you sense you are losing your balance, your first reaction is to reach out with the hands to brace the fall. This can be detrimental to your wrist and may result in a fracture or sprain. The speed at which you are skiing will determine just how serious the injury is or whether it results in a fracture or sprain. A wrist fracture is common for skiers. It’s referred to as a Colle’s fracture and involves a break at the lower end of the bone that connects to your hand. If you fracture your wrist, your physician will place it in a splint until the swelling is reduced, then it will be put in a cast. The cast will remain in place for six to eight weeks. Once it’s healed, you may want to wear a wrist support or brace for extra protection.

Knee sprains

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main ligaments in the knee. When you sprain or strain your knee, chances are that ligament will be affected. Skiing, by its very nature, puts a strain on the legs and knees. If you ski downhill, you have the force of gravity pushing more weight and pressure down upon the knee. Then if you make a sudden turn or twist, you risk spraining the knee. If you’re a skier, you know that sudden turns and twists come with the territory. You may need to maneuver around a bend or turn around the corner of a slope. Even during cross county skiing, you could come upon something and need to change course or stop. The sudden turning twists the knee and injures the ligament. You may hear or even feel a pop when this occurs. Your knee will swell up and you’ll be in a significant amount of pain. It will also be difficult to put weight on your leg.

Ankle sprains

When you’re twisting and gliding down the slopes, not only are your knees in danger of becoming injured but your ankle may get twisted as well. A sprained ankle involves the ligaments that surround the bone near the bottom of your leg. The severity of your injury depends on how badly the ligaments are torn. You may notice some swelling or redness around your ankle area and discomfort when trying to walk. It may bruise and feel stiff as well. Healing is accelerated by wrapping the ankle with a supportive brace and elevating it on and off throughout the day. You may have to use some assistance when walking if it hurts too much to put weight on the ankle.

Skier’s thumb

If you take a fall and jam your hand into the ski pole, you may injure the tissue surrounding your thumb. This injury is called skier’s thumb because it happens more often because of a skiing accident than any other reason. Although the thumb isn’t broken, it can still be painful and limit your grasping ability. Your thumb may also turn black and blue, swell up, and be sore to touch. Referred pain may occur in the wrist, as well. In some cases, a person may need surgery if the ligament is completely torn.

Head or neck injuries

Occasionally, a skier may suffer a head injury. This can occur if you fall and strike your head on something. Even hard packed snow is sufficient to cause a mild head injury. However, any time you suffer any type of head or neck injury, it is best to consult a physician. Head injuries can be serious. You may not realize the extent of the problem because symptoms can occur later.

What is the difference between acute and chronic knee problems?

Knee problems are the most common problems among skiers. Robert LaPrade, the chief medical officer at Steadman Philippon Research Institute, studies sports injuries. He says every year he sees a lot of knee injuries. The ski industry has developed a new design for skis that make it easier for novices to ski, but at the same time, it makes it easier for people to go much faster. This makes falls more prevalent and ACL tears more probable. When you sustain an injury to the knee, it’s considered an acute injury. This means it occurs suddenly and usually clears up in a few weeks. However, some people have chronic knee conditions or weak knees. Chronic conditions are long-lasting and may not be due to one particular injury. Acute pain may lead to chronic knee problems over time.

How can I protect myself skiing?

Part of practicing skiing safety is preparing yourself for the slopes. You can condition your muscles by participating in exercises that build the strength in your legs. Helpful exercises include the following:

Squats: This particular exercise works several of the large muscles you’ll use skiing such as the thighs, hips, buttocks, hamstrings, and quadriceps in your thighs. You can do squats freestyle or against a wall. To do them freestyle, stand with your feet about one foot apart and your back and head straight. Slowly lower your body as if you are going to sit down in a chair. When you get to the position of where a chair would be, stop and hold the position for a few seconds. Now, push back up with your heels using your legs. Concentrate on making sure your legs do the work and that you don’t roll forward toward your toes — let all the pushing come from your heel area because this ensures the back of your legs and thighs will do the work. To do these against the wall, you simply use the wall to balance yourself against, but be sure you don’t lean all your weight against it. You want your legs to do the work.

Lunges: Lunges are an easy exercise that doesn’t require any equipment. It works the lower-body muscles such as the hamstring, quadriceps in your thighs, glutes, calf muscles, and hips. Stand with your hands on your hips for balance and your feet a few inches apart. Take a long step forward, and bring your body down when you do into a lunging motion. Hold for a second making sure to keep your back and head erect. Then bring your extended foot back to the starting point. Continue doing ten to twenty with one leg, then switch to the other leg.

Knee exercise: If you have weak knees, you will gain some help for your knees by doing exercises that strengthen the upper part of your leg. Aside from the exercises already mentioned you can also do heel raises. These are simple and can be done anytime throughout the day. Stand with your feet a few inches apart and then raise yourself up on your toes. Hold for a few seconds, and then bring your heels back down. This strengthens the calf muscles, which helps the knees.

What else can I do to help my knees?

Since the knees are most commonly injured during skiing, it’s important to give them extra protection. If you have weak knees or suffer from chronic knee problems, you’ll want to wear a Hg80 Premium Hinged Knee Brace. It provides supreme support for the knee and also is recommended to help control a knee that is out of place, commonly referred to as “floating kneecap.” This high-performance, moisture-wicking knee brace also eases the pain associated with chronic or acute knee injuries.

Another option for your knees is a knee stabilizer. This product offers knee support as well as compression to the tendons. The lightweight nylon construction ensures that it will provide breathable, flexible support. Steel springs on either side of the stabilizer provide maximum support for both sides of the knee.

There’s no reason to allow skiing injuries or chronic knee pain to hold you back from staying fit. Plan on hitting the slopes, but be sure to go prepared. Strengthen your muscles and support your knee with the proper stabilizer.

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