Ski and snowboard injury prevention
With the ski season starting exceptionally early this year, many local residents are getting excited to scrape off the storage wax on the skis and hit the slopes.
We are fortunate to live in a valley that offers abundant avenues for enjoyable outside interests and exercise year round. Hopefully many of you have been able to stay active throughout the summer and fall by hiking, cycling, running or anything else you enjoy. If you have not, there is never a better time than the present to start getting outside and exercising.
However, while most active individuals in the Roaring Fork Valley have a good aerobic base, it is also essential to have an appropriate amount of strength, flexibility, balance and explosive coordination when preparing for the ski and snowboard season. The proper level of conditioning and strength not only can help limit any potential injuries but also make the experience on the mountain much more enjoyable.
When you lock two skis to the bottom of your feet while soaring down the mountain, knee injuries have a tendency to happen. Roughly one-third of all ski injuries occur within the knee joint, with the most common of these occurring to the medial collateral ligament. Often more severe ligamentous injuries such as an anterior cruciate ligament rupture can occur easily. Strengthening the proper musculature around your joints to support them can help limit these potential injuries.
Keep in mind when incorporating a regimen of exercises that it is always best to first consult a knowledgeable physical therapist or athletic trainer to help ensure proper technique alongside diagnosing areas of weakness.
Basic strength exercises incorporating your body weight, such as squats and lunges, are a great place to start. Once these are mastered, you then can progress to more dynamic movements such as one-legged squats on balance discs or the countless exercises incorporating equipment such as balance boards, BOSU balls and physio-balls. The progression of these exercises also helps to integrate the core and lower back musculature, which is essential when incorporating upper and lower body movements during skiing or snowboarding. Once this strength base has been established, you then can progress to plyometric exercises. For the seasoned athlete, this helps simulate on-slope conditions, reactions and explosive coordination. Scissor or tele-jumps and hurdle or box jumps are some of the many different types of plyometric exercises that can be initiated.
Remember to listen to your body constantly when on the mountain. If at any time during the day you are feeling fatigued, take some time to rest. If you continue to feel fatigued, there are always turns to be had tomorrow. Make sure you always maintain and wear the proper equipment, yield to others around you while skiing and snowboarding within your own ability, and always use good judgment. There are much better ways to impress your teenager besides taking a huge jump in the terrain park.
Aspen Orthopaedic Associates reminds you to ski and snowboard safely not only for yourself but for others around you, as well. Have a safe and fun winter season on the mountain!
Drew Larson is director of research for the Aspen Sports Medicine Foundation.
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