With the European skiing and snowboarding in full swing, we’re seeing a lot more patients with injuries sustained on the slopes coming through the doors of the clinic.

Skiing and snowboarding does have a reputation of being a risky sport, but the overall injury rate for skiers is a little lower than it is for snowboarders, who have a higher injury risk rate.

In general skiers tend to sustain injuries to the knee due to the twisting motion and the ski boot fixing the position of the ankle in place, leading to greater force transference than usual at the knee.

Around 45% of skiing injuries occur to the knee joint. The anterior cruciate ligament (found in the middle of the knee) is prone to rupture, when skiers weight continues forward during a fall. Rotation injuries can, as with borders not only injure the medial collateral ligament (a band of tissue on the inside of the knee) but sometimes also affect the cartilage inside the knee, otherwise known as the meniscus.

Snowboarders are more vulnerable to injuries of the shoulders, wrists and ankles. With 40% of injuries occurring to the wrist due to falls and the repetitive action of pushing up from the floor, which can cause over-strain of the ligaments at the palmar side of the wrist. This can lead to localised swelling and discomfort.

Skiing or snowboarding over rough terrain can alter the forces experienced through the lower back. If a turn isn’t quite successful it is possible to cause a jarring force into the lower back that can cause localised swelling between the small joints in the spine. This can cause an initial sharp pinching sensation that can later result in stiff and sore back.

Most injuries for both skiers and snowboarders occur either by falling down or loss of control during a jump, with a very small amount occurring by collision with other skiers or riders. This demonstrates the fact that the skiers or riders themselves’ are at fault. Poor fitness, poor selection of terrain or conditions, poor judgement of one’s ability, or poor maintenance of equipment are factors in many injuries.

The key message here is that many skiing and snowboarding injuries are preventable.

Some of the most common skiing and snowboarding injuries we see are:

• Knee ligament injuries, such as stretches or tears to the 4 major ligaments that provide stability to the knee joint. The anterior cruciate, the posterior cruciate, the medial collateral and the lateral collateral

• Shoulder dislocations

• Shoulder separations

• Stiff / sore backs

• Sprains to the lower extremities, such as calf, ankle, or foot

• Sprains to the upper extremities, such as wrist, hand, or thumb

Fortunately, most snow sport injuries are minor and should be treated immediately with R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression and elevation).

The following treatments are recommended at Kinesis Clinic for the above injuries:
• Active Release Technique (ART)
• Graston Technique
• Deep Tissue Laser Therapy
• Sports Massage

If you’re planning a skiing or snowboarding holiday in the next couple of weeks, now is the time to think about how best to avoid any of these injuries.

Here are some top tips to an injury free snow sports holiday:

⎫ Make an appointment with an Osteopath to address any long-standing or current injuries, aches or pains, to ensure you have the best possible and safest time on the slopes

⎫ If you know that you’re prone to an injury in a particular area, i.e. that dodgy knee, then it’s always best to prevent injury by supporting this joint with sports tape whilst on the mountain. We offer a strapping service with a special kinesiology/sports tape called Rock Tape. It provides support while allowing full range of motion, helps to decrease pain and unload tissue via decompression

⎫ Ensure you have suitable, well-maintained and properly adjusted equipment (including a helmet and gloves)

⎫ Always get your boots properly fitted to prevent unwanted movement that can be the precursor to twists and strains in the lower limbs

⎫ Specially fitted insoles such as Superfeet can be hugely beneficial to tailor fit your boots to your foot. Superfeet insoles are available in the clinic alongside a fitting service

⎫ Although it might be a holiday, both skiing and snowboarding have rigorous physical demands on the body so it’s advisable to exercise before you go. Remember it’s important to keep muscles strong to allow maximum stability at joints

⎫ Technique is key. It’s always worth having a refresher lesson to ensure that you aren’t starting your holiday with any bad habits

⎫ Always remember to stretch before and after skiing or snowboarding
– Warm up with some dynamic stretches
or movements (such as lunges or squats) as these will activate the muscles being used during skiing and snowboarding
– Do some static stretching at the end of your day on the slopes, holding the stretches for between 10-30 seconds to help improve mobility and range of movement
– Don’t forget to breathe easily whilst performing of exercises

The most important thing in all this though is to enjoy your holiday and put yourself in the best stead to come back home with nothing more than good memories.

If you do experience any injuries on the slopes, remember R.I.C.E and give us a call on your return further assistance.

For further information on any of the above or to make an appointment,
please call: 01483 50431
book online @

Leave a Reply