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The secret to staying injury free this skiing season, revealed by experts

With the fresh mountain air and idyllic landscape views, it could be easy to forget the dangers of the skiing as you hurtle down the piste. However, approximately 10,000 skiers and snowboarders from the UK are admitted to hospital every year with injuries following their winter-sports holidays. Whether it’s concussion, broken bones, sprained wrists or torn ligaments, the potential for casualties is endless, and with rising numbers of new skiers taking to the pistes this season, medical experts urge winter holidaymakers to be aware of the dangers during a skiing trip. 

London Bridge Hospital experts, Consultant Specialist Knee Surgeon, Mr Adil Ajuied and Consultant Knee Surgeon, Mr James Bliss treat some of the most chronic injuries following a skiing incident, who can each offer advice on how to avoid injuries that can ruin your holiday and impact on your quality of life.  

Mr Adil Ajuied, Consultant Specialist Knee Surgeon at London Bridge Hospital, provides some top tips to make sure you fully enjoy your time on the pistes this winter:

  1. “Pre-ski fitness and strengthening – Ski holidays are very physically demanding. They place demands on muscles we do not routinely challenge and make us use our joints in ways we do not usually use them. For these reasons, we are at risk of injury both early on in our holiday, while we find our ski legs, and mid-way through our holiday as we start to fatigue and become stiff and sore. It is therefore strongly recommended that you train for your ski holiday, in the same way one would train for a running event, to prevent injury and maximize enjoyment. Many physiotherapists now offer pre-ski classes to help you get into shape.
  2. Do not over tighten bindings – Bindings must be professionally fitted and not over tensioned, as the failure of a ski to detach during a fall results in significant and dramatic increase in the torque going through the knee. This dramatically increases the risk of injury to ligaments or fracture.
  3. Consider ski lessons – No matter what your level of expertise and experience, it is always worth considering some coaching lessons to help hone and improve your technique. This will have the dual effect of protecting you from injury and helping you impress your friends and family.
  4. Rest – Being fatigued, stiff, and tired increases your chance of injury. So it is important to warm up when skiing, stretch and warm down after skiing. You should also make sure you have enough rest and relaxation between your visits to the slopes.
  5. Read the conditions – Seek good conditions and take advice from locals who will often know the good spots. A large proportion of ski injuries results from collisions – avoiding over-crowded slopes and the busiest times will reduce the chances of collisions.
  6. Do not ski on an injury – If you are unfortunate enough to be injured, it is important to rest the injury and have it professionally assessed, as skiing on an injury significantly increases the risk of re-injury.”

Mr James Bliss, Consultant Knee Surgeon at London Bridge Hospital, comments on the most frequently seen injuries following skiing:

The most common injuries around the knee and sprains of the medial collateral ligament, which should settle with rehabilitation, meniscal cartilage tears and an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) - these last two types of injury should be assessed by a knee specialist orthopaedic surgeon."

Once you have injured yourself, it's usually best not to test out the injury, to see if it can hold up to another ski run.  Ice the injured area and see how it feels the next day and observe how much swelling occurs over 12-24 hours.  Significant swelling or pain generally means that further skiing is probably short sighted."

Skiing injuries are slowly on the rise, as more and more people take to the slopes over the winter months.  Interestingly, when carver skis were introduced a few years ago there was an increase in knee injuries due to inexperienced skiers being able to edge a ski more easily and therefore put more rotational loads through their knees."

This service is designated service at London Bridge Hospital that offers accurate and swift assessment of ski injuries using state of the art scanners. Following referrals to a physiotherapist who work with a leading Orthopaedic team, they will aid rehabilitation and help sportsmen and women in getting back to optimum fitness and allow them to return to the enjoy the snow. 

Visit our orthopaedic surgery page on the London Bridge website.

Visit our orthopaedic services dedicated website here.