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Preventing Knee Injuries for Skiers

Date: 12/17/2020

It’s that time of the year where Mainers brush the dust off their ski boots and hit the slopes. But for as popular as snow sports are, they can be just as dangerous. Every year, many will find themselves leaving the mountain with an injured knee, accounting for around one-third of all ski-related injuries. Among the two most frequent are sprains or tears to the medial collateral ligament and the anterior cruciate ligament.
  1. An injury to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) occurs when the lower leg and foot twist outward, putting immense pressure on the MCL.
  2. An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is more serious than one to the MCL and might occur after a traumatic twisting or pivoting of the knee.

No one wants to cut their season short on account of an injury. That’s why a few weeks before hitting the slopes, skiers should consistently exercise their quadriceps and hamstring muscles to condition them for heavy use. Doing so is among the top ways to prevent a traumatic knee injury. The following exercises, in particular, should be worked into a routine:
  1. Single leg squats
  2. Double leg squats
  3. Planks and side planks
  4. Wall-sits
  5. Side-to-side skaters
  6. Lunges

As skiers navigate the slopes, there are several things to keep in mind.
  1. Fall correctly. When the body stiffens up, it’s more susceptible to injury. Keep the body loose, draw in the limbs, and move with the momentum of the fall.
  2. Unless it is to avoid an obstacle, do not try and stand back up until you are done sliding from a fall.
  3. Land your jumps on both skis with the knees flexed and your weight forward.
  4. Consider wearing a knee brace that is designed for knee protection. Braces can speed up recovery time if an injury does occur.
  5. Be conscious of how the boots connect to the skis. During a fall, skis should properly separate from the boot. If the ski remains attached during a fall, the leg may twist in a distressing way.
  6. Take breaks between runs. Allow time for rest and rehydration. Injuries are more likely to occur when fatigued.
  7. To avoid overworking the muscles, vary the grade of the slopes you chose throughout the day.

Even the most careful and prepared skiers can succumb to an injury and experience pain, swelling, or difficulty walking. When this occurs, it’s imperative to seek appropriate treatment. A serious problem will not correct itself, and prolonging diagnosis can result in more pain or irreversible damage.
 
Knee pain, regardless of severity, keeps us from doing the things we love and living the life we want to. That’s why Northern Light Orthopedics offers all new patients an appointment within two weeks. Through timely practice and by utilizing the latest techniques and technology, patients are put back on their feet and into their snow boots as quickly as possible.
 
When it comes to knee care, all patients and their injuries are different. As a comprehensive team with the expertise to address all types of pain and injury, Northern Light Orthopedics takes a customized approach so that the individual needs of each patient are met every step of the way.
 
If you’re suffering from knee pain, swelling, or difficulty walking, learn more about Northern Light Orthopedics care by visiting NorthernLightHealth.org/EMMCOrtho or by calling 973-9980.