Pain-free ski: avoid the most common downhill-skiing knee injuries

December 9, 2014

Skiing is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors, but like all sports has risks. To reduce the odds of getting hurt, here's advice abouthow to avoid the most common downhill-skiing knee injuries.

Pain-free ski: avoid the most common downhill-skiing knee injuries

Knee injuries caused while downhill skiing are mostly caused by tricky maneuvers and excessive speeds.

As such, knee injuries affect various structures in the knee including the ligaments, such as the ACL (or anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (or medial collateral ligament), kneecap (patella), and other vital structures that enable the knee to bend.

How knee injuries can happen

The most common type of knee injury usually involves the MCL as the result of a fall. This ligamentruns along each side of the knee andconnects the shinbone to the thighbone.

  • During a fall, if the skier doesn’t change his or her position, the MCL ligament may twist and snap, or get sprained, leading to a painful injury.
  • Coming to an abrupt stop with the knees bent can also lead to an injury, which affects the ACL ligament—it runs diagonally across the front of the knee. It is estimated that ACL injuries account for more than 30 per cent of all ski injuries.

Precautions to take

Here are a couple of things you can do to possibly prevent a knee injury while skiing:

  • Stretch adequately before going out on the slopes. This will help with flexibility so that you’re better placed to react in a proper manner moments before a fall.
  • Exercise to prepare your lower extremities. This may include biking, elliptical training and aerobic training, all of which target lower body strength.
  • Train with an experienced skier who may show you what to do before going out there.
  • Get adequate rest before hitting the slopes. This will ensure that your whole body is well-rested for the task at hand. A good amount of energy will help you go through your routine without mental or physical exhaustion on the slopes.

Signs of knee injury

Knee injuries can be identified by a loud crack or pop while skiing, followed by a swelling and diffuse pain shortly after. During this time, avoiding putting weight on the injured knee and foot and seek medical attention immediately.

  • Ask to have an x-ray done and give your physician as many details as possible so they can determine the best course of action to take with regard to treatment.

Although most of these injuries may not need surgery, treatment is at the discretion of a doctor. As such, always seek the expert opinion of a healthcare professional. What may not seem important to you could be very important in the eyes of a physician.

  • If your knee is swollen, consider elevating it slightly as you wait to get treated.
  • Depending on the extent of your injury, your doctor may prescribe painkillers to help you manage the pain. What's more, he or she may advise you to perform specific exercises to keep the knee flexible and stop it from locking up.
  • If you suspect a knee injury, don't wait! Go see a doctor right away. If you're on the slopes when the injury happens, call the ski patrol to help you. That's what they're there for. Otherwise, you risk making the injury worse if you attempt to ski on your injured knee.

A bit of common sense, and understanding why downhill skiing knee injuries occur, goes a long way in helping to prevent and treat an injury in a timely manner.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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