Knee injuries: how to prevent a common problem for skiers

January 29, 2015

Lower leg injuries have been a long-time issue for skiers, and among the most common are knee strains. Here's how you can protect yourself.

Knee injuries: how to prevent a common problem for skiers


Ski-related knee injuries are on the rise. Experts have correlated this, in part, with the modification of traditional bindings over the last 30 years. Prior to these innovations, the most common ski injury was broken legs.

The dawn of hard boots and adapted bindings has significantly improved skiers’ control and stability. Advancements shifted the incidence of reported injury from fractures (which dropped dramatically) to knee trauma instead.

Chief causes of knee injury

  • The cause of 40 to 60 per cent of all knee strains is equipment failure. It’s important to inspect your boots and bindings regularly, get refit annually (depending on wear and tear).
  • The length of your skis is another important factor. Keep in mind that the shorter your skis are the less tension and stress is placed on your knees.
  • Just like all sports, you should always warm up and stretch before skiing (and afterwards for that matter). Using effective techniques will prepare your body for exertion and reduce the risk of injury and soreness.
  • Stick to trails that are suited to your level of ability, and mitigate icy and difficult terrain by skiing during favourable weather conditions.
  • Human error is another common cause of knee injury. Joshing around on the ski hill might make you popular with your friends, but it could also have unpredictable outcomes.

Strain equals pain

A nasty fall can lead to hyper-rotation of the knee and damage to the ligaments. If this happens you may a feel and hear a snap. There can be significant inflammation and pain but this is not a fracture. Unless you are running on pure adrenaline, you will not be able to get up.

Later at the hospital, you can start to rethink the sequence of events. While it will be too late to go back in time, you may realize the situation could’ve been avoided had you inspected your bindings, warmed up or exercised a little more caution on your descent.


Ligaments are the connective tissues that keep our bones in place. Over time, even without strain, ligaments tend to decline and lose their structural ability.

Take care of your body and protect your knees. Knee guards secure and stabilize the knee, while shells and padding absorb a lot of the impact during a fall.

Knee injuries happen most frequently to children, which should be enough to encourage you to purchase of knee guards for the whole family.

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