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Most Common Skiing Injuries That are Painfully True

Most Common Skiing Injuries
Improper conditioning of the body is one of the major factors contributing to skiing injuries. Similarly, lack of control over the body may also cause a serious injury to the skier. ThrillSpire offers you a gist of various types of skiing injuries and the ways to prevent them.
Snehal Motkar
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
Skiing injuries can be divided into two types: Acute and Chronic Injuries. While acute skiing injuries are caused by hurting body parts through a fall or collision with objects, chronic injuries are a result of overuse of the muscles for a long time. Neglected or mistreated acute injuries may become chronic over time.
Skiing is a recreational sport in which the skier uses long runners or "skis" that are attached to their shoes to move swiftly over the snow. Before becoming a competitive sport or a recreational activity, skiing was used for several practical purposes, like transportation in the areas of heavy snowfall, military purposes, etc. There are two main types of skiing: (i) Alpine skiing or downhill skiing that originated in the European Alps; and (ii) Nordic skiing, also known as cross-country or backcountry skiing, which developed in Scandinavia. There are several subvarieties of these sports, categorized depending upon the technique involved.

Apart from improper conditioning of the body, the factors that may be responsible for skiing injuries are low-quality or unsuitable equipment, poor condition of skiing tracks that include very less or more ice, deep tracks, sharp bends, etc.
Alpine skiing or downhill skiing
Alpine skiing
Nordic skiing
Nordic skiing
Common Skiing Injuries
Knee Injuries
Knee injury
The most important reason for the highest rate of knee injuries in skiing is the fact that while the foot and ankle are securely locked and stay protected inside the boots, the knees are left unprotected. A great amount of pressure is put on the knees while moving on the snowy surface, thus increasing the risk of injury.

To be more precise, the main part of the knee that is prone to injury is the ACL, i.e., anterior cruciate ligament. It is the interior ligament of the knee that holds the knee joint together. If we want to understand how does ACL (the deeply located ligament) get injured, we have to study the movement of the skier that causes this injury. When the skier attempts to catch the inside edge of the ski during a fall, it causes a sudden external rotation below the knee.

Another ligament that is in danger while skiing is MCL, i.e., medial collateral ligament. Both the ligaments are prone to damage when the skier's body and the skis go in different directions. Also, the ankles are fixed inside the boots, and any twist or rotation from a ski puts direct pressure on the knees.
Prevention: To prevent knee injuries, the skier should avoid high-risk behavior, work on the correct technique, and should be quick in responding correctly to dangerous situations.
Arm/Hand Injuries
Skier's Thumb
Skier's thumb
Although being the most common skiing injury, in almost 75% of the cases, it goes unreported. Retention of the ski pole in the hand while attempting a fall is the main reason for this injury. When the skier attempts to break a fall, the hand containing the ski pole is outstretched, and the thumb becomes hyper extended, thus getting badly injured. It is an injury to the main stabilizing ligament of the thumb -- the ulnar collateral ligament.
Prevention: The best preventive measure for skier's thumb is learning the correct skiing technique. Along with that, the strapless poles with a hand protection device will also work better in protecting the thumb.
Wrist Sprain
Wrist sprain
It occurs when the skier experiences momentary loss of balance while he is sticking his hand out to break the fall. As soon as the hand hits the ground, the force of impact is returned to the forearm. This causes the ligaments (connecting the wrist and the hand bones) to stretch more than normal, resulting in tiny tears, or ligament breakage.
Prevention: Although wrist sprain is difficult to prevent, since it is accidental, skiers may benefit from a wrist guard or a tape, which may prevent the wrist from bending backwards during a fall. Also, make use of a pole that has a low-profile grip, and do not secure them in the wrists with tight straps.
Leg Injuries
Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains
It may commonly occur when skiing through the gates and hooking a tip. If the ankle isn't centered while an abrupt movement is done, the ankle is bound to get twisted, resulting in an injury.
Prevention: Fortunately, ankle sprains have become less frequent these days, thanks to the use of improved and appropriate equipment and application of correct technique.
Lower Leg Fractures
Lower leg fracture
Although due to the use of advanced skiing equipment the lower leg injury rate has declined, it still continues to be amongst the most common skiing injuries. Children are more susceptible to lower leg fractures than adults over 20 years of age. Most importantly, it is the inconvenience of a leg break on the ski run that causes difficulties for the skiers almost everywhere.
Prevention: The use of proper equipment will save your lower leg from injury. These days, the new binding designs have a good twist-release function at the toe. The boots that are well-padded prevent an injury. Use of ski runners that match the level of skiing experience also prevent lower leg fractures, or twists for that matter.
Head Injuries
Head injury
The rate of serious and fatal injuries is relatively low in skiing. However, the fatalities occurring are related to head trauma. Although the percentage of these injuries is not so high, they are extremely dreadful when they occur. The main cause for head injuries is the high speed of the skiers.
Prevention: Wearing a helmet is one of the preventive measures for a head injury during skiing. Although, the use of helmet is increasing day by day, there are only 40% skiers using it regularly. However, the experts are warning skiers that a helmet does not provide complete protection, and they need to lessen their speed of skiing.
Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder Dislocation
Shoulder dislocation
Shoulder dislocation is a common skiing injury that occurs when the arm bone loses contact with the socket of the shoulder blade. Usually while skiing, a bad fall on the shoulder, or hanging with the support of a single arm results in this injury. The chances of recurrence of this injury are higher because the supporting tissues are not strong enough as they used to be prior to the injury.
Prevention: Clavicle supports, shoulder supports, and stabilizers should be used as a preventive measure against this injury.
Acromioclavicular Joint Injuries
Acromioclavicular joint injury
It is the separation of the two bones that together form the shoulder joint, where the collarbone attaches itself to the shoulder blade. The acromioclavicular or AC ligament attaches these two bones, and when the ligament is torn, these bones are separated. This joint injury is independent of any technical factors, like the use of particular equipment, boots, etc. Most of the time, it occurs due to an incorrect fall; hence, the rate of this injury is relatively higher. The fall has a direct impact on the outer side of the upper arm, damaging the AC ligament. The result of this is a distorted shoulder joint.
Prevention: Learning the correct technique of falling will prevent the skier from this injury.
Humerus Fracture
Humerus fracture
A fracture in the proximal, i.e., upper end of the humerus occurs when there is great harm done to the arm, or shoulder. The injury is intense when the skier falls on an outstretched hand. The parts that are involved in this injury are the humeral shaft, sites of muscle attachments, and surgical neck.
Prevention: Since a fall is the major mechanism of this injury, learning to fall correctly will save your shoulders from this injury.
Skiers should ideally ski with partners and stay within each other's sight. If one happens to go out of sight, the other should stop and wait for him/her. Also, every skier should be aware of the correct procedure to seek medical help in unwanted, critical conditions.