There was a time not so long ago when skiing was the preserve of the rich and famous. The only time mere mortals got to see it was looking at film stars in glossy magazines skiing down the slopes in Aspen.’ So says top sports physiotherapist Alan Kelly, (or AK). ‘But not so now with the onset of cheap travel, skiing is now open to just about anyone and with the winter ski season approaching the clinic will start to fill up with a whole collection of skiing injuries. Most of these will affect the unfit, recreational skier – the man or woman who looks at the brochure and says “let’s go for it.”
Falls account for 70% of all ski injuries, with medial knee and ligament strains being common. “These usually happen when beginners twist their knee while falling. Damage to the cruciate ligament can also happen to skiers who fall backwards while their leg is extended forward. Fractures also occur in violent falls and collisions.’ Upper limb injuries account for the rest o( the injuries – with thumb sprains being common.
The Apres Ski Factor
Alan Kelly has also noticed that most ski injuries occur on day three of the holiday. Three days on the slopes and a few late nights’ apres ski and your concentration just won’t be the same,’ says Alan. ‘And with poor concentration injuries are more likely.’
The ways to avoid injuries begins weeks before you even hit the slopes. ‘Apart from moderating your alcohol intake and getting plenty of rest you should also take part in a good pre ski conditioning programme.’ says Alan. ‘The training must focus oh building muscular endurance, to help avoid fatigue and maintain technique. But am exercise programme should be functionally related to skiing to get the most benefit.’ This means the exercise programme should rehearse any moves you will be making on the slopes.
Alan also suggests working out in a good gym. ‘Most gyms have pre-ski exercise programmes. lust make sure the training focuses on building muscular endurance to help avoid fatigue and maintain technique. Studies show that all the major muscles work hard during skiing turns. Tummy and back muscles are working especially hard to maintain your forward position on the skis – so theses muscles must be in good shape.’
Alan has several other tips: take ski lessons if you have never skied before, pace yourself, get your ski instructor to show you how to fall correctly, check all your equipment before you go our and consider each ski day as being equivalent to two heavy sessions in the gym