How to prevent the two most common ski injuries to the hip

November 3, 2014

The two most common ski injuries to the hip are hip arthritis and hip labral tear. Here’s how to treat, or even prevent them, so you won’t need hip surgery.
Nothing’s better than the rush you feel every winter when the snow is perfect on the slopes and you race down at a bracing speed. But is your body ready for this type of stress? If it isn’t, a serious hip injury could have you out for a season or more. These are the two most common ski injuries to the hip.

1. Hip arthritis

Hip osteoarthritis results from breakdown and wear of cartilage between bones, leaving the bones to rub together painfully when stressed. Sufferers of hip arthritis generally lose mobility in the affected hip. When you ski without first building up the necessary muscle strength, your hips are unable to absorb the shock of skiing, and the cartilage is likely to deteriorate over time.

At this point, there’s no cure for hip arthritis. This ailment is treated with pain management, ice packs, anti-inflammatory medications and a range of other treatments such as orthotics, acupuncture, electrotherapy and massage. In later stages, hip surgery may be necessary.

How to avoid hip arthritis

First, it’s important to be in good enough shape to ski. You should have a good range of motion, flexibility and endurance in your hip joints.

  • Don’t ski if you’re obese. Extra weight stresses hip joints
  • Ice your hip after skiing to treat pain and swelling
  • Try a massage to reduce pain and stiffness, and ramp up circulation
  • Have a doctor check your bone density
  • Follow doctor’s orders regarding anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications

2. Hip labral tear

Your hip labrum is a ring of cartilage that rims your hip joint socket. If, during a ski session, it rips from the joint, you’ve suffered a hip labral tear. In worst cases, hip labral tears require hip surgery.

This injury occurs when skiers force their hips into unnatural positions, or they can occur over repetitive hip rotations. The result can be pain in the groin or deep in the buttocks. If you’ve suffered a hip labral tear, you may feel a click or catch as you move your hip.

How to treat a hip labral tear

To ease the symptoms and promote the healing process, put the skis away for a time and rest your hip by:

  • Not sitting with knees at a point below your hips
  • Not crossing your legs
  • Not sitting on your legs
  • Not sitting on the edge of your seat
  • Not rotating your hips
  • Not flexing your hips

When you do return to skiing, take precautions to ensure you don’t suffer another hip labral tear. Keep working with a physical therapist until your hip joints are fully mobile and strong enough to handle the stress, and avoid assuming extreme skiing positions.

How to prevent the two most common ski injuries to the hip
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