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Health & fitness: Injury prevention while skiing is key

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By The Staff

Skiing injury prevention begins with athletic conditioning, proper equipment and technique. When one of those three elements fails, injury may occur.Injury prevention while skiing should consist of a pre-vacation conditioning program that will assist in building muscle endurance, improve balance, and allow for better joint flexibility.Fatigue can result in more injuries for the non-conditioned skier and most injuries will result in the second half of the day when peak fatigue takes place.Poor snow conditions along with fatigue can increase the risk for injury. It’s important to pay attention to how your body is feeling and that may mean quitting earlier avoiding the possibility of an injury.Using the right equipment means you must be realistic about your ski ability. You wouldn’t want the bindings set wrong on the skis causing incorrect release when the ski is put under torque. The correct ski length and type of ski will also help with ease of performance.Helmets have become more popular as people have died from head traumas, but if there is a tree involved a helmet may not save your life.I like to ski fast and wearing a helmet feels like the right thing to do for me. This is a personal preference and should be given consideration. Also, the chair lift has been known to clip me in the head, so I again am thankful for my helmet.The most common types of ski injuries would have to be to the knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain is the most common type of knee injury resulting from twisting at slower speeds. Beginner skiers encounter this type of sprain. The other common knee injury is to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and this sprain occurs by catching an edge or falling backward with the leg extended in the front. Meniscus tears are also a common injury with skiing and are responsible for about 5-10 percent of ski injuries.In terms of fractures, the top of the tibia in the lower half of the leg is the most common place for a break. Those are known as boot top fractures.In all, 75 percent of ski injuries result from falls while 25 percent result from collisions.Approximately 30 percent of ski injuries are to the upper extremities like thumbs and shoulders. With the popularity of snowboarding, more broken wrists and dislocated shoulders have been reported.Activity recovery should also be mentioned in order to participate in multiple day activities. Replacing glycogen stores will help prevent fatigue on the slopes. Post-skiing recovery drinks that contain a large dose of carbohydrates and electrolytes are recommended.Recovering from injuries is time consuming and can definitely ruin your winter fun. Focusing on prevention can help you avoid any sports related injury.Stay working out at the gym and provide yourself with good nutrition and hydration and you should have a fun-filled winter, hopefully, an injury-free winter.

Kim Lazarus is a local chiropractor specializing in sports- and spinal-related injuries. She can be reached at 662-1905.