Orthopaedic injuries are the probably the last thing you’re thinking about when planning a winter vacation to go skiing and snowboarding. Yet, as the popularity of these winter sports grows, so does the number of related orthopaedic injuries, according to a review article published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
The article found:
- Snowboarders were three times more likely than skiers to sustain injury.
- In 1989, snowboarding injuries accounted for four percent of all snow sport-related injuries. By 1999, it made up to 56 percent of all snow sport-related injuries.
“While some injuries are unavoidable, many are caused by skiers and snowboarders exceeding their comfort zone in either speed or technical challenges on the mountain,” said Brett D. Owens, lead author of the review and an orthopaedic surgeon, in a news release from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “It is critical to stay in control and be prepared to slow and stop to avoid contact with another person on the slope.”
The most common skiing and snowboarding injuries are to the spine, pelvis, shoulder, wrist, hands, knees, foot and ankle. The latest statistics show that more than 140,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and emergency rooms in 2015 for skiing and snowboarding-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Skiers are more likely to experience lower extremity injuries, especially to their knees, “due to the rotational forces on the knee despite effective binding releases,” Owens said. Snowboarders are more likely to experience upper extremity injuries “due to falls onto their hands.”
Fortunately, winter sports enthusiasts can help prevent many of these injuries by taking simple precautions.
“Snow sport athletes can best prepare for their sport with a general preseason conditioning program as well as familiarity and maintenance of equipment,” Owens said.
He offered the following injury prevention tips:
- Stay adequately hydrated. Keep your muscles well-conditioned.
- Know how to use your equipment appropriately. Make sure everything is in optimal working condition.
- Check your ski bindings. They should release from your boots when need. Make sure they fit your feet.
- Keep the edges of your skis or snowboard flat and sharp for maximum performance to minimize injuries.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs while skiing or snowboarding.
- Maintain the ability to slow down and stop on busy days when many other athletes also are on the mountain.
- Use extreme caution when weather conditions make it difficult to see or create unsafe slopes.
- Always follow signs and ski patrol instructions. Never ski or snowboard “out-of-bounds.”
If you do become injured, make sure you see an orthopaedic specialist. At Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists, each patient who comes to us receives an individualized treatment plan designed to help decrease pain, improve body strength, and restore mobility.