Snow Skiing Injury Prevention

Snow Skiing Injury PreventionDifferent stance, different techniques and different gear — but the distinctions between skiing and snowboarding don’t end there. The types of injuries that skiers and snowboarders can incur are different too, requiring the right preparation to stay safe on the slopes. We checked back in with Travis Maak, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with University of Utah Orthopedic Center, about how skiing and snowboarding injuries differ and how you can prevent them.

Tens of thousands of skiers and snowboarders enjoy snow sports every year, however few prepare for the rigorous physical demands that these sports place on the body. Although they can be safe sports, unexpected injuries may occur with improper preparation, varied snow conditions or poor judgment. Many injuries can be prevented by proper physical preparation, suitable and properly adjusted equipment, and common sense.

Snow Skiing Injury Prevention Tips


  • Pace yourself; don’t do too much too soon when conditioning for ski season.
  • Be aware of your personal fatigue level.  Skiing injury rates peak in mid-afternoon to late afternoon; fatigue is a significant risk factor in skiing injuries.
  • When preparing for ski season, begin participating in activities specific to skiing, such as using the indoor ski machine and upper and lower body muscular fitness exercises.  This will strengthen the connective tissue (muscle, bones, ligaments, and tendons) and will provide a good aerobic foundation = decreased chances of injury occurrence during snow ski season.
  • Beginner skiers or low ability skiers may be more susceptible to injury.
  • Remember to warm-up and stretch at least 5 – 10 minutes before skiing.


  • Use equipment advantageous to injury prevention.  The design and function of equipment contribute a great deal to the safety of skiing (multimode release bindings and modern midcalf-height boots).
  • Note that research is suggesting that new aggressive double-poling and V-skating methods are leading to an increase in soft tissue and bony stress fractures.
  • In Alpine skiing injuries, the ski-pole grip may cause an injury to the thumb. Those using a grip with a broad superior plate are more likely to obtain gamekeepers thumb (hyperextension/abduction injury to the thumb).


  •  Avoid participation in high risk behaviors, –  i.e., showing off, hot-shotting, etc.  Stick to skiing as the singular sport you are participating in.
  • The ski racing technique, when the pressure to the ski edge is applied posteriorly on the ski, offers less control and places the racer at increased risk for ACL ligament sprains.
  • Lunging across the finish line while “sitting back on the tails” places the skier at risk and should be discouraged.
  • Contact a local MWR Trainer for additional information on skiing conditioning and safety guidelines.


  • Be aware of the environment around you.  Be cautious of the potential for avalanche.  Be aware of potential environmental hazards such as trees, bushes, other skiers, etc.
  • Dress for the sport to prevent cold injuries such as hypothermia and frostbite.  Layered clothing is recommended.  Accessories such as glove liners, masks, etc. are also recommended for skiers.
  • Alcohol consumption should be discouraged as it promotes heat loss.
  • Liquid and nutrition replenishment is recommended to decrease exposure-related illness.


  • Most injuries in skiing are the result of a fall.
  • Skiing fatalities most commonly occur due to heart attack, trauma to the head and neck, and hypothermia.
  • A history of prior injury to an  extremity indicates an increased risk of re-injury.

Snow Skiing Injury Prevention Conclusion

Every year, a handful of skiers and snowboarders die as a result of avalanches. The risk is highest in the backcountry but slides can occur very near to ski areas. Even in Scotland, avalanches can pose serious dangers to those foolhardy enough to ignore the warnings. Whilst no amount of advice, experience, planning or equipment will ever provide 100% protection against either triggering or being caught in an avalanche. Following these tips should help in Snow Skiing Injury Prevention.