"Don't wait for the snow to start falling to prepare your body for the ski season," says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven hindman of the ONS Foundation for Clinical Research and Education. "The sooner you start a conditioning program, the better."
The injury most feared by skiers is a torn ACL, (anterior cruciate ligament.) One of four ligaments in the knee, the ACL can tear when a skier tries to recover from a fall in which his weight drops backward over the ski tails, triggering the skis to shoot forward putting excessive stress on the ACL. The injury usually requires surgery and a lengthy recuperation. Conditioning can play an important role in ACL injury prevention. Strengthening both the upper and lower leg muscles will help stabilize the knee during stress situations.
Ski conditioning should consist of building muscular endurance and increasing strength to maintain good balance and resist fatigue throughout an active day. The major leg muscles work the hardest when skiing or snowboarding. Exercises should focus on strengthening hips, thighs, hamstrings and calves, while improving flexibility and stamina. Yoga, which develops strength, flexibility, balance and breathing, works well for many people. Pilates, a deep muscle exercise system, can improve core body strength and flexibility.
Fatigue however, is the most common cause of skiing and snowboarding accidents. "Most injuries happen after 2 p.m. in the afternoon due to muscle fatigue, flat light and deteriorating snow conditions. When you get tired, it’s time to stop and go inside," recommends Dr. Hindman.
The ONS Foundation health and injury prevention seminars are presented by physicians and physical therapists as part of the organization’s education initiative.
To arrange for a skiing injury prevention seminar for your school or community group, contact the ONS Foundation at (203) 869-3131.