4 Easy Ways to Prevent Ski Injuries

By Yeti \ March 25 2014

University of Utah Health Care physical therapist Linda Scholl, outlines simple preventive measures to keep you safe on the slopes this season:

1 - Wear a Helmet

Scholl doesn’t mince words: “A helmet must be worn in the snow. It can save your life.”

Your helmet needs to be snug all the way around your skull, fitting closely enough that if you shake your head it won’t move. It should cross your forehead about 1 inch above your brows.

2 - Take Time to Stretch

Stretching is essential to avoiding downhill injuries, Scholl says. Skiing demands constant muscular adjustments requiring agility and flexibility. The ability to maintain balance and react quickly to avoid obstacles or other skiers could prevent a pulled muscle, or worse.

Stretch each muscle group with three sets of 30-second holds, concentrating on hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Also effective are chest stretches: Stand in a doorway and clasp each side of the door frame, then slowly step through the door until you feel the stretch. Stretch gently; you should not feel pain.

3 - Learn How to Fall

The most common knee injury on the slopes is MCL (medial collateral ligament) damage, usually caused by slow, twisting falls and overdoing the snowplow position, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. A more serious knee injury is a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), typically occurring as you lose balance and fall backward, often after attempting a jump. Scholl says to ski within your abilities so you’re able to maintain balance and control; don’t land on your hands; and don’t jump unless you know where and how to land—feet together, knees flexed, torso forward.

4 - Be Defensive

While you may ski in control, others may not. Collisions between skiers and other objects account for 11 to 20 percent of injuries. Stay alert and get out of the way if you see trouble coming.

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