10 Expert Physiotherapist’s tips for injury-free skiing

The ski season is upon us and there is plenty of snow in the Alps!

Our principal Physiotherapist and clinic owner Ann Petherbridge spent several seasons in the Alps in France running skiing holidays and has first-hand experience of a knee injury. Despite a partially ruptured ligament she has just returned from a successful trip skiing with NO injuries and has put together Physio-Answers’ 10 top tips for injury-free skiing.

We also do a specialised treatment package aimed at skiers (and boarders) for before and after their trip at a reduced price of £119 (See below for details).

This winter many head off from the UK for a week of boarding or skiing. Unfortunately, a few will return injured. For skiers, it is usually knees. For boarders in softer boots and fixed bindings, it is more often face, shoulder and wrist injuries from the impact of a forward fall.
Increased technology in skis and boots can help our technique and comfort but some experts believe we are now at MORE AT RISK OF knee injuries.

Previously, a slow fall was the danger as there was insufficient force for the bindings to release but some believe that the curved edges of modern carving skis have created a new problem. Instead of sticking or dragging against the snow, as the old parallel-edged skis used to do, the carver’s edge catches the snow and steers the ski away from you, twisting your knee as it goes.
The other contributory factor seems to be ski boots. These now protect ankles and shins much more effectively than older designs. The result, unhappily, is more pressure on the knee. Until bindings are developed that counter this, we all remain vulnerable to knee injuries.

So here are our 10 Tips for an injury free snow holiday- and what to do if you come home injured.
Bon Ski!

1) Get fit

Skiing and boarding uses muscles in a way we don’t do on land. Get quads and hamstrings strong and calves stretched.
General cardiovascular fitness is important-especially as altitude makes any exertion even harder and reduces the oxygen supply to your lungs and muscles.

2) Your Equipment

Ensure your boots and skis or board are suitable for your ability and most important-have your ski bindings adjusted correctly. This helps your skis come off at the RIGHT time.
Always attach your snowboard safety line to prevent a runaway board!

3) Fall correctly

To avoid tearing ligaments with skiing avoid:
1. Attempting to get up whilst still moving after a fall
2. Leaning right back on your skis or attempting to sit down after losing control
3. Attempting to recover from an inevitable fall
For boarders
The commonest injuries are to the wrist, shoulder and head. The risk of sustaining a fracture is at least twice that of skiers.
Wrist guards have been shown to reduce wrist injuries. Helmets are now worn by almost everyone

4) Start out on the easier runs

It is probably a while since you last skied so get into practice on some easy runs and get your turning technique before heading for the double blacks!

5) Rest when tired

Weak, tired muscles give less protection to the joints and make them more prone to injury. So if you feel tired have a break or head home- or it might be your last run of the holiday. Never good-especially on the first day!

6) Practice the skiers code of conduct

Plastered around all ski resorts, and sometimes printed on the back of your lift ticket, are simple, common-sense rules to follow when on the mountain. For example, ski in control so you are able to stop and dodge others; give people downhill the right of way; look up before you merge onto a trail; and never rest in a blind spot for other skiers. Follow these rules, and you’ll have a better chance of not getting hurt.

7) Know your lifts

Getting on and off the lift is prime time for getting injured if you’re not paying attention to how it works. Lift usage is included in the skier code. Statistically the first five metres after you get off a chairlift are the most dangerous on the mountain!
For boarders the rear foot should be detached from the bindings when ascending on lifts. Be careful when one foot is out of the binding though – in effect you have a “fat ski” on one leg and are prone to knee injuries from unexpected twists (e.g. when using a surface lift like a T-bar or when dismounting from a chairlift)

8) Take a lesson

No matter what standard you are consider a lesson to sharpen your technique and prevent bad habits. If you have the piste skiing sorted pistes try a powder lesson. No matter how good you are there is still something to learn.
9) Knee Braces
If you have already sustained an ACL injury and/or undergone reconstructive surgery, consider wearing a hinged knee brace. Get advice from your physio as to which ones are the most appropriate for your injury.

10) If you have any problems when you return

 Come to us for a physiotherapy assessment for expert advice as to what you have injured and the most effective treatment. This helps to prevent long term problems especially if misdiagnosed.
For example:
Snowboarder’s ankle” – this is a fracture of the lateral process of the talus bone in the foot and is very important as it can lead to long term arthritis if undiagnosed and not treated correctly. It resembles a bad ankle sprain and one major problem is that most doctors outside of ski areas will never have heard of it!! If you have persisting pain in your ankle 7 days or more after an injury from boarding this is a possible reason!

Going skiing and worried about your fitness?

Physio-Answers Ski and Boarding Package

In consultation with the founder of Physio-Answers, Ann Petherbridge who previously owned and ran a skiing company in the French Alps we have put together an exclusive package of physiotherapy to help you get the best out of your holiday. It includes:

• An extensive, pre-trip 1 hour physio assessment and treatment of any injuries and exercise programme review to maximise your ski technique and minimise the chance of injury.

• 30 minute targeted massage

• A post-holiday 30 minute review to assess and treat any problems or injuries or a bespoke massage

• A tube of Fisiocrem. (our wide-selling cream for effective joint and muscle pain relief)