Published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the new review cautions that as the popularity of skiing and snowboarding continues to rise, so does the number of skier and snowboarder injuries.
In 1989, snowboarding injuries accounted for just four percent of all snow sport-related injuries. By 1999 however, this figure had risen to 56 percent.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also estimates that more than 140,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and emergency rooms in 2015 for skiing and snowboarding-related injuries (88,210 and 61,668 injuries, respectively).
“While some injuries are unavoidable, many are caused by skiers and snowboarders exceeding their comfort zone in either speed or technical challenges on the mountain,” said lead author of the review Brett D. Owens, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who specialises in sports medicine. “It is critical to stay in control and be prepared to slow and stop to avoid contact with another person on the slope.”
Owen adds that the most common skiing and snowboarding injuries are to the spine, pelvis, shoulder, wrist, hands, knees, and foot and ankle. Skiers are more likely to experience injuries to the lower body, especially to their knees, “due to the rotational forces on the knee despite effective binding releases,” while snowboarders are more likely to experience injuries to the upper body “due to falls onto their hands.”
To help prevent these injuries, Dr. Owens offers the following tips:
- Be prepared for the ski season by keeping in shape with well-conditioned muscles and a body that is adequately hydrated.
- Be knowledgeable about how to use your equipment appropriately, and ensure everything is in optimal working condition.
- Check that the ski bindings can release from your boots when appropriate, and that boots fit appropriately.
- Check that the edges of your skis and/or snowboard are flat and sharp for maximum performance to minimize injuries.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Be sure you have the ability to slow down and stop on busy days when many other athletes are also on the mountain.
- Use extreme caution when weather conditions are not optimal.
- Always follow signs and ski patrol instructions. Never ski or snowboard “out-of-bounds.”