Many of us like hitting the slopes every winter for a week of downhill snow fun. However, skiing injuries are very common, especially if you are inactive for the rest of the year. For many people a weeks skiing is the most intensive exercise they will do all year, and for those of you who do keep fit, you will work muscles you didn’t know existed (we all know the pain after the first day on the slopes)!

Common injuries can include:

Head injuries
Bumps to the head can cause compression in the cervical spine (neck) which can lead to neck pain, shoulder pain and weakness in the arms. We recommend that a good quality helmet should be worn at all times on the slopes, this can help to avoid more serious injuries.

Neck injuries
Although you may not directly hit your neck, that doesn’t mean it’s safe from skiing related trauma. Falls can often replicate the type of injuries you would normally associate with road traffic accidents, such as whiplash (flexion and hyperextension injuries). Other injuries are spinal compression from falls on the head which can compress nerve roots, the spinal cord and herniate cervical discs.

Shoulder injuries
When falling on the slopes the shoulders can often take a large amount of the impact. This can cause compression of the joint, dislocations, fractures, sprains and local bruising.

Knee injuries
Most knee injuries are related to the twisting motion at the knee, this can cause damage to the medial and lateral collateral ligaments, the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and the knee meniscus. These types of injury can take some time to heal.

Middle back injuries
Most middle back injuries are from direct trauma. This is the strongest part of your back and benefits from the protection of your rib cage. Common injuries are bruising, facet irritation, muscle trauma, ligament sprains and swelling.

Lower back injuries
Lower back injuries are more common in people with a history of lower back problems. The most common lower back injuries include disc herniation and spinal compression. These are from landing on the buttocks, placing large amounts of pressure in the lumbar spine.

Muscle strains
These can include injuries in the calves, hamstrings, quads and hips. These can largely be avoided by warming up before hitting the slopes and cooling down and stretching afterwards.

The main causes of ski related injuries are:

  • Poor technique
  • Over-use
  • Weak muscles
  • Spinal misalignments
  • Not warming up properly
  • Inadequate equipment (using boots, skis or poles which aren’t suited to your size or style)
  • Previous injuries
  • Trauma – from falls, bumps and slips

Symptoms of skiing injuries include:

  • Back pain
  • Joint Pain
  • Leg pain
  • Stiffness
  • Tightness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness

How to avoid these injuries:

  • A good fitness regime to strengthen your core muscles and improve your overall fitness level.
  • An efficient warm-up and stretching routine to prepare your muscles before hitting the slopes. This will lower the chance of straining your muscles.
  • Get some lessons!  Even if you are an experienced skier, it can be easy to fall into bad habits. A professional ski coach will pick up any flaws in your technique and recommend ways in which you can improve your skiing.
  • Chiropractic care to maintain your spinal health.

Many skiing injuries respond very well to Chiropractic adjustments which aim to encourage efficient joint motion, increase flexibility, reduce muscle tightness and improve alignment.

Spine graphic
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