Skier’s Knee Injury Prevention

The overall injury rate related to ski injuries has declined due to the improvement of ski equipment in recent years; such as decreased extremity fractures and other severe injuries. However, the incidence of knee sprains has increased; and according to a recent survey study by the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine knee injuries account for 1/3 of skiing injuries. The top causes of injury include mechanical forces that occur during a fall, collisions and equipment induced injury.

The two most common injuries are medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains (15-20% of ski injuries) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears (~100,000 reported annually from skiing). The MCL is a ligament that stabilizes the inner portion of your knee from valgus forces (lateral to medial). The ACL is an internal ligament in the center of your knee, which stabilizes your knee to maintain proper alignment. With injury to your ACL, your knee becomes unstable.

Regardless of the severity of a ligament sprain, physical therapy is an integral part of your rehabilitation. In certain cases surgery is the treatment of choice due to the severity of the tear and patient’s desired return to physical activity. Physical therapy is important for surgical cases, pre-operatively and post-operatively. Less involved tears can be treated successfully with conservative care (non-operatively) with the help from physical therapy to normalize an individual’s knee range of motion, strength, proprioception and walking pattern. All of these factors are important variables for an individual to return to their prior level of physical activity; such as the ski slopes.

General Reminders to Avoiding Ski Injuries:

  1. Preparation: Lower extremity strengthening and proprioceptive exercises should be a part of your work-out routine in the couple months leading up to ski season. Follow the link below for strengthening exercises, use exercise code: KJ8UHAT Preventative Exercises
  2. Appropriate equipment and equipment settings: bindings should be adjusted to your level of skiing experience
  3. Stay on slopes appropriate to your skill level
  4. Consider taking lessons: it never hurts to get tips from the professionals on the mountain to work on your form
  5. Fatigue: last run of the day, only you know your body and if you feel fatigued, do not push yourself to squeeze in one last run, as this is the most common time injuries occur

To see the original article click here (http://ojs.sagepub.com/content/2/1/2325967113519741.full.pdf+html) and to read more on tips for knee friendly skiing click here (http://www.vermontskisafety.com/kneefriendly.php)

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