Preventing Injuries on the Slopes
Downhill skiing can result in both serious and minor injuries if you're not prepared.
While some athletes participate in other sports during the off-season to stay in shape, many skiers are weekend warriors and return to the slopes after months of waiting for snow.
Strength, flexibility, endurance, and agility drills are essential for both recreational and expert skiers to:
- Prevent fatigue
- Improve performance
- Reduce the risk of injury
No matter what type of a skier you are, you could wind up with minor aches, muscle pain, or a serious injury if you don't spend a little time preparing for the demands of your sport.
Workout Specifics for Skiers
To get you ready for ski season, a good rule of thumb is to work out three to five times a week for one to two hours.
Workout programs should focus on:
- Plyometric training
- Core and balance
- Cardiovascular endurance
- Upper and lower extremity exercises
- Intensity of strength: two sets of 15 repetitions that create fatigue between the eighth and 12th repetition
Snowboarders and cross-country skiers also can benefit from these strengthening exercises.
Depending on your age and fitness level, some exercises are not recommended. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Preventing Knee Injuries
More than 60 percent of all skiing injuries occur in the lower extremities.
Because the most common injury is ligament damage in the knee, it may help to participate in a program that reduces the risk of non-contact ACL injuries, such as the ACL Injury Prevention Program at UPMC.
While UPMC originally designed this program for soccer players, the training routine, principles, and concepts apply very closely to skiing and snowboarding.
To help promote leg strength, this program includes:
- Plyometric training
- Sport-specific agility training
To prevent injury, it's also important to use proper technique during jumping moves. Jump straight up and down without excessive side-to-side movement, and aim for soft landings.
Tips for Staying Safe on the Slopes
According to the National Ski Patrol Responsibility Code, the following tips can help you enjoy your time and stay safe on the slopes:
- Stay in control at all times
- Allow the right-of-way to skiers ahead of you
- Look uphill to merge on a trail
- Do not obstruct trails or remain in a blind spot
- Do not congregate in a group in the middle of the hill
- Use devices to prevent runaway skis