It’s March. Ski season is in full swing, and I haven’t skied in two years… gulp. It just seemed like too much of a hassle with the pandemic. The longer I wait, the more reluctant I get. But Ingrid Carlson, a PT intern from Regis and a lifetime skier gave us great exercises and important tips for safe skiing. I’m ready. You should get ready too. Check it out.
Written by Ingrid Carlson, SPT
The ski season may be more than halfway done, but it’s never too late to get these important tips on how to avoid ski injuries. After all, lower extremity injuries account for more than 75% of all ski injuries, and of those, 40% are knee injuries involving the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial cruciate ligament (MCL). An ACL ski injury typically occurs one of three ways: a “valgus external rotation,” a “phantom foot,” or a boot-induced injury.
A “valgus external rotation” injury occurs when the thigh and the knee are twisted inward while the lower leg is twisted outward by the ski (see Figure 1*), causing strain or even severe damage to the ACL and possibly MCL.
The injury known as a “phantom foot” is caused by a backward fall and an inward rotation of the knee (see Figure 2*), resulting in serious strain or damage to the ACL.
And lastly, a boot-induced injury is caused by landing with straight knees forcing the boot to rapidly push the lower leg forward relative to the upper leg stressing the ACL. (See Figure 3).
Hopefully, you’ve never experienced any of these, but if you have, you know it can be quite unpleasant. Luckily, there are some key steps you can take to avoid this happening, and two of them can be done before you even get in the lift line.
- Regularly tune your skis and have your bindings checked by a professional.
- Ski within your skill level.
- Stay focused and mindful of your energy level (injuries often occur at the end of the day when you’re fatigued or when you’re not paying attention).
- Be sure to warm up (injuries are more likely if you aren’t warmed up).
If you’re like me, you probably didn’t put much thought into warming up beyond taking a few laps on the groomers before charging down a mogul run. Perhaps it’s time to rethink this routine and start warming up to prevent an injury or stop your nagging post-ski knee pain once and for all.
Here are 3 great exercises that activate your glutes, quads, and hamstring muscles to help prevent a knee injury. Use them to warm up and turn on the right muscles before you ski, or even better, as a set of training exercises to get stronger in prep for ski season and as a warm up.
This exercise is great for activating your glutes and helping take the load off of your knees. Do 15 repetitions of each hip hinging exercise.
This exercise will get your quads burning in no time and help improve your skiing endurance. Hold squat for 1 minute and repeat 2-3x.
These lunges will help get your glute muscles and thigh muscles working together to prepare you for a fun day of skiing! Repeat each lunge 10x on each leg.
We are movement analysis and injury prevention experts and we want to help you perform at your peak condition. Schedule with one of our ALTA Physical Therapists before the ski season is over for individualized ski conditioning and injury prevention assistance. And if, heaven forbid, you do have a ski injury, we can help you with that too!
*Ski-Knee © 2015