Prevent Knee Injuries When Skiing

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Published On

Nov 20, 2018


Patient Education

How to Prevent Knee Injuries When Skiing

Winter is on its way, and if you love to ski, then you may be eagerly awaiting that first big snowfall that signals the start of the ski season in your area. Whether you are an experienced skier or a novice, you need to be aware of knee injuries that can occur when skiing and how to prevent them.

Read on to learn about common knee injuries in skiers and how to prevent them.

Most Common Knee Injuries Experienced in Skiers

Injured skiers generally experience one the following injuries.

Medial Collateral Ligament Injuries

Out of all knee injuries experienced by skiers, 60 percent are medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries. The MCL is a ligament located on the outside of the inner knee. Medial collateral ligament injuries that occur when skiing range in severity from stretched ligaments to completely torn MCLs.

While even fully torn MCLs can often repair themselves, rehabilitation typically involves attending many physical therapy sessions, wearing a knee brace, and staying away from activities that are hard on the knees, including skiing.

However, some MCL injuries can only be repaired with surgery. MCL surgery is typically performed by sewing the torn ligament back together or back to the bone it tore away from.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

Approximately one-third of knee injuries experienced on the slopes are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. In fact, about 17,500 skiers experience these tears each year. Unlike the MCL, which runs alongside the outside of the knee, the ACL lies inside the knee. Anterior cruciate ligament tears can be full or partial tears, and the ACL can also develop sprains.

Women are more prone to ACL injuries than men due to how they tend to land differently on their feet than men and several other factors.

Like MCL injuries, ACL injuries can often be treated with physical therapy and lifestyle changes. However, some ACL injuries do require surgical repair. Surgery to repair an ACL often involves replacing the torn ligament with a graft of tendon relocated from another area of the body or from a donor.

While MCL and ACL injuries can occur alone, other ligaments are often injured when they are.

How to Prevent Knee Injuries When Skiing

Skiers can follow a number of tips to prevent knee injuries.

Get in Shape Before Ski Season

If you perform little exercise outside of skiing, then it is important to get in shape before you begin skiing again each winter. Weak muscles and muscle imbalances increase your chance of developing many ski injuries, including knee injuries. Strengthen your core and leg muscles before hitting the slopes, and work on improving your flexibility by performing stretching exercises.

Choose the Right Skis and Bindings

Take care to choose the right skis and bindings to prevent knee injuries. Narrower skis are better than wider skis that place more stress on knees when twisting and turning. Choose bindings that offer safe, efficient release mechanisms. These bindings are more likely to release your foot from a ski before a knee injury occurs.

Don’t Drink Alcohol Before Skiing

Drinking alcohol before skiing increases your risk of many types of injury. Not only is your reaction time slower after drinking alcohol, but you are also more likely to attempt risky moves you are not ready to perform when intoxicated.

In addition, keeping proper form that helps prevent ski injuries can be tough after imbibing in alcoholic beverages.

Don’t Fight Falls

Many knee injuries occur when a skier attempts to stand up during a fall. Allow yourself to fall when it is inevitable to prevent knee injury. Also, learning how to fall properly can prevent many types of injuries when skiing.

If you love to ski or plan to learn to ski this winter, then keep these knee injury facts and prevention tips in mind to help prevent knee injuries when skiing. If you do experience a knee injury while skiing, seek expert care at The Noyes Knee Institute.