Ski injuries Q&A

Want to know how to stay safe on the slopes?

We asked Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr David Hollinghurst and physiotherapists Claire Ferguson and Louise Spence about the most common skiing injuries, how to avoid them, and what you should do if you have a skiing accident.

Claire Ferguson

Around five of the most common skiing injuries are seen in the knee joint and ligaments. They are:

  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) sprains
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) sprains
  • Tibial plateau fractures
  • Meniscal injuries
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprains

Louise Spence

It’s impossible to prevent skiing accidents entirely, but there are some things you can do beforehand to minimise the risk of injury. Ensuring your body is in the best shape before you even hit the slopes makes a huge difference and goes a long way to minimising injury risk. Having a physiotherapy assessment prior to your ski trip can help iron out any niggles, as well as identify and address any areas of weakness to minimise the risk of serious injury. By being in good physical shape, your recovery will be quicker. Ensuring you have adequate fitness levels and good muscle strength in your lower limbs, especially your quads, is key.

ACL injuries often occur when you sit too far back when landing a jump or by twisting at the knee during turns, so good technique is very important too. Even if you’re unfortunate enough to have a skiing accident, the severity of the injury can be reduced and recovery improved if you’re in good shape to start with. Following expert advice post-injury is vital to ensure your recovery is effective and not delayed.

Louise Spence

Having good knee stability is important. This can be achieved by ensuring the quads are strong and that the ITB (ilio-tibial band), which runs from the outside of the hip to the knee, isn't too tight. This can affect knee function by altering the mechanics of how the knee joint and knee- cap work.

Louise Spence

For any acute injury, it’s important to immediately follow the PRICE principle - Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Getting assessed as soon as possible after an injury is vital to ensure it’s diagnosed and managed appropriately to minimise complications and speed up your recovery.

Mr David Hollinghurst

Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need medical advice in the resort, or you may be able to wait until you’re back in the UK. Advice from an experienced physiotherapist or orthopaedic surgeon will allow accurate assessment of your injury, as well as giving you advice about the best treatment options to help you get you back on the slopes! Although serious knee injuries can require surgery, most patients are able to ski again after rehabilitation.

Mr David Hollinghurst
Knee injuries will benefit from ice, elevation and anti-inflammatory pain relief. Crutches and splinting the knee may help with pain. For most knee injuries, gently moving the knee for short periods will reduce pain and stiffness, even if the knee is splinted at other times.

Ski injuries

Ski injuries infographic

Learn more about skiing injuries by taking a look at our infographics

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