Preventing Knee Injuries in Skiing
By Lissa Fraser MScPT Registered Physiotherapist, recreational skier and owner of Fresh Tracks Physiotherapy
All sports and activities carry some degree of injury risk with them and unfortunately knee injuries tend to be the most common in skiing both in recreational and avid skiers. Of these knee injuries, ACL or anterior cruciate ligaments tears are some of the most serious as they often require surgery and come with a long recovery period. While not all injuries are preventable, there are some risk factors which can be modified.
- Injuries occur most commonly when skiers are fatigued so maintaining physical fitness and strength pre- and during the season as well as resting when appropriate are important preventative strategies.
- Injuries occur more often in females than males which is thought to be because landing mechanics in women tend to be more quadriceps dominant and in knee extension. Thus muscular training focusing on hamstring strengthening and landing in a more flexed knee position can also be effective injury prevention strategies.
- Although not the main focus of this article, additional effective injury prevention strategies include appropriate use of equipment (ie. correct size and fit, correct DIN binding setting etc) and good skiing technique. Receiving ski instruction from a professional is a worthwhile investment.
Neuromuscular training programs have been shown in research to reduce the risk of sustaining an ACL injury. Specifically, programs which include landing stabilization exercises (ie. drop landings, jump/hop), hamstring strength and lunges have been shown to be most effective.
As physiotherapists who ski these are some of our favourite pre-habilitation and throughout ski season exercises to reduce the risk of sustaining a knee (specifically an ACL) injury.
- Lateral Lunge
- Lateral bosu jump/land
- Step Back Lunge
- Landing mechanics
- Split squat
- Single leg Russian dead lift
- Single leg balance with toe touch
Important points to note:
- ensure good hip-knee-foot alignment (use a mirror!)
- try not to let your knee drift over your toes in squat positions, you may need to shift your weight into your heel
- don’t forget about your core – engaging your abdominals is the key to good balance