Injury Prevention when Skiing and Boarding

April 9, 2008 by  
Filed under features

Snow skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts agree that their favorite sport, although often providing an amazing adrenaline rush, is relatively low risk. Some claim that the risk of injury during snow skiing is less than 1%. However, the fact remains that mishaps can happen. Sometimes these are major, requiring expensive medical treatment and time off work, not to mention the crushing disappointment of a ruined holiday. At other times, they may be minor soft tissue injuries that, while possibly not needing medical attention, can nevertheless disrupt holiday plans. In the light of this, it is clear that injury prevention has much value to snow sport fans.

It is imperative that all snow sport participants become familiar with and follow the F.I.S. (International Ski Federation) code of conduct, which has been put in place by professionals who understand the risks of snow skiing and therefore are in the position to give expert advice on injury prevention. Ignoring the F.I.S. code of conduct could result in an injury to yourself or someone else, which could lead to huge medical costs and possibly even substantial legal costs. Extreme cases of negligence on the slopes have even led to criminal charges being laid.

Injuries are more common in beginners and bad self-taught habits can be difficult to rectify. So, make some time for professional ski instruction before hitting the slopes and don’t be in a hurry to do too much too soon. Don’t attempt to keep up with more experienced friends, remember that at one time even the experts were learners.

Ensure that your gear is checked regularly. If you don’t have your own kit, don’t be tempted to use a friend’s equipment as it may not fit correctly. Rather hire equipment from a hire facility that takes the time to fit your equipment properly according to your height, weight and skiing ability.

Before starting out, make sure that you warm up by gently stretching hamstrings, hips, calves and thigh muscles. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds – done correctly, stretches should not hurt. Take time to rest when you need it and stay hydrated. Research reveals that the majority of injuries occur in the afternoon when skiers are beginning to tire out.

Wear adequate layers of clothing and consider wearing a protective helmet that complies with American standards (Snell RS98 or ASTM F2040) or alternatively the European standard reference EN1077. Good quality goggles, sunglasses and sunscreen are essential.

Always have an experienced partner when snow skiing or snowboarding off-piste, and stay updated on the prevailing avalanche risk, ensuring that you have the appropriate gear and avalanche transceiver. Never attempt to ski down a closed piste. Ski patrollers have closed it for a good reason. In deep snow areas tree wells often form around the base of a tree where snow has been prevented from consolidating under low overhanging branches. These tree wells are extremely hazardous and skiers should steer clear of coming too close to trees, small or large, when skiing in deep snow areas.

Snow skiing is a challenging and rewarding sport that is enjoyed by millions of people world-wide. By paying proper attention to injury prevention, skiers can look forward to many hours of accident free fun.