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Snow Smart: Injury-Proof your Skiing and Snowboarding

With winter in full swing, what better time to address the common skiing and snowboarding injuries that we see at the clinic.

Our Physiotherapists at The Movement Workshop are well-versed in snow sports, with our Sports & Exercise Physiotherapist, Jessie Mayo having previously worked with the Winter Olympics team in PyeongChang.

According to our Physios, here are some of the most common musculoskeletal injuries from snow sports.

Common Ski Injuries

·       Knee-related injuries

ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries are the knee injury that most people think of when thinking about skiing. This is due to the landing and twisting forces as well as the slightly flexed position of the knee in skiing, which increases risk of injury to the ACL.


Meniscus injuries are another common knee injury in skiing. This often involves impact and/or rotational forces through the knee which can aggravate the shock-absorbing meniscal cartilage in the knee.


·       Skier’s thumb

This is one of the most common hand injuries that presents after skiing due to the forced abduction of the thumb. Skier’s thumb refers to the stress put through the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the thumb, which if not treated correctly can lead to chronic instability issues.

Common Snowboarding Injuries

·       Fractured wrists

Impact injuries are common in snowboarding, and often can manifest as a fractured wrist, commonly at the distal end of the radius bone. Depending on severity, the treatment for this injury may require stabilization, immobilization and varying lengths of rehabilitation.

·       Fractured ankles

The most common mechanism for a fracture ankle in snowboarding occurs when a person lands from a jump and simultaneously twists their ankle inwards. A common sign of an ankle fracture is bruising, inability to weight-bear pain-free and tenderness on palpation.


Beware of concussion!

Concussions are a serious and very common injury that we see in both skiers and snowboarders. Concussions are a transient (not permanent) traumatic brain injury which impacts brain function in the short-term. The risk in continuing to ski or snowboard after suffering a recent concussion can put you at risk of second-impact syndrome, where swelling around the brain can occur and cause very serious side effects and in worst-case scenarios can be fatal.

If you have a head knock, it is best to get it checked by a medical professional. They will often look for signs and symptoms including:

·       Headaches

·       Feeling dazed

·       Nausea

·       Vomiting

·       Changes in reaction time

·       Changes in balance

·       Irritability/changes in mood

·       Sensitivity to light or noise



So, how can you set yourself up for a fun, injury-free season?

1.      Wear a helmet!

This is a simple and very important safety precaution that surprisingly, many people do not utilise. The NHS released a statement that wearing a helmet can reduce head injuries by 35% in adults and 59% in children, however, helmets do not make your head completely bulletproof against blunt trauma to the head.

2.      Prepare your body by strengthening before and throughout the season

Leg strength is a vital part of skiing and snowboarding, and so it is important to train major muscle groups such as the quadriceps, hamstring, glute, adductors and ankle stabilisers.

Upper body and core strength/stability is often neglected from training, however, is crucial in efficient skiing and snowboarding.  

Jessie demonstrates a few at-home exercises on our Instagram page including skaters, wall sits with calf raises, planks and more.

3.      Do mobility work

Dynamic stretching and mobility exercises can be used as a warm-up and cool-down after hitting the slopes.

4.      Ensure you have the right gear

Well-fitted and appropriate gear for the level of the skier/snowboarder is important in reducing injury risk. For example, longer skis are sometimes more difficult to control, whereas shorter skis may lack stability. Furthermore, boots that are too loose will have reduced stability and those that are too tight can risk impeding blood flow to the foot.

5.      Allow for adequate recovery and nutrition

A day out on the slopes takes a big toll on the body, so make sure to properly refuel and rehydrate your body. Give yourself appropriate rest-time, particularly if you have gone from doing not a lot of activity to doing a 5-day trip to the slopes.

6.      Listen to your body and address injuries early

Some muscle soreness can be expected when returning to the snow, however, if pain or niggles persist for longer than a few days, it is best to get it seen quickly. The evidence shows that the best outcomes for musculoskeletal injuries come from those that address them early.


Our Ski and Snowboarding Physiotherapists in South Melbourne are here to help you with any of your snow sports needs. We wish you the best for the season!


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