The Guide

How to Avoid Injury on the Slopes

Skiing is an active exercise and so the muscles involved will need to be ready to avoid those sore legs and help reduce your risk of injury. Any preparation you did prior to heading out on the slopes will have been beneficial in avoiding the emergency department.

The good news is that snowsports are safer than ever with improved equipment, groomed pistes and better instruction. ‘Medicines de Montagne’, who collate all the injury information throughout the French Alps, state in their report for 2016/17 winter season that ‘for every 1000 days participated in all snowsports there are 2.57 injuries’. This is from an estimated 8 million participants in all disciplines. Most of these injuries will be minor, with 94.1% of patients returning home from the Doctor’s surgery and not requiring hospitalisation.

Don’t become an injury statistic

Knees are the most common injured joint, accounting for 37% of all injuries. Shoulders account for 15% and only 2.8% are attributed to head injuries. In snowboarding, 27% of all injuries are fractured wrists and it is recognised that the use of wrist guards can help reduce your risk by up to 50% so it is well worth the purchase!

In addition to the general risk, which is small, other intrinsic factors may also help reduce injuries. One important factor is being prepared for your sport. Ideally preparation should be incorporated into your normal physical activity, or at least started 6 weeks prior to your trip. Simple cardiovascular gym work such as cycling or the cross trainer can be of huge benefit in creating endurance and leg strength. Step ups, lunges and squats are also recommended for the same reasons.

It’s not too late!

By the time you read this you’ll probably have already been out on the slopes, but it’s not too late to give yourself a little extra help.

Being prepared for the activity you are about to do can help your brain’s reaction time and your muscles to cope better with the physical stress they are about to incur. Try these simple exercises before your next ski session:

  1. Stand on an uneven surface (eg. a cushion) and do single leg dips which are excellent for strength, control and balance around the knee.
  2. Stand on one leg with your eyes closed and see how long you can maintain a stable position without falling.
  3. Dynamic movements help your body to warm up. Before you get on the lift, emulate the movements of skiing or boarding until you have a light sweat.

Your muscles work more efficiently when they are warm and can absorb more stress and are less likely to become injured.

So, being fitter, well prepared and better at your sport will go some way to reducing the amount of falls you have during the day and, as obvious as it may seem, if you don’t fall you are less likely to injure yourself

Our top injury prevention tips:

  • Check that your ski bindings are at the correct setting.
  • Snowboarders should use wrist guards
  • The use of helmets can help reduce head injury.
  • Follow FIS code of piste safety.
  • Always get professional instruction.
  • Be aware of excess alcohol while on the slopes.

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Contributors to this article...

Gavin Fernie-Jones



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Andy Lloyd



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Andy Davies