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Skiing: Hitting the Slopes Without Injuries

The snow has come and the time to hit the slopes has finally arrived! Skiing, whether it’s downhill or cross-country, can be a fun and healthy way enjoy winter. Nevertheless, skiing, much like many other winter sports, doesn’t come without its own set of risks and possible injuries.

Benefits of winter activity

Skiing is a great, well rounded winter activity and is considered an excellent endurance sports. Skiing promotes blood circulation throughout the body and trains the cardiovascular system, making it a great activity for those with vascular problems. What’s more, skiing involves less impact on the joints of the body when compared to other sports of similar intensity such as running. This helps improve bone density and can prevent conditions such as fractures and osteoporosis.

When skiing, it’s important to be safe and cautious, as the risk of falling and injuring oneself is present. Ski-related injuries can be divided into two major categories, traumatic injuries and overuse injuries.

Types of Injuries

Traumatic injuries are often due to crashes or, most commonly, falls. Examples of traumatic ski injuries include fractures, bruises, sprains and strains as well as tears. These predominantly affect the arms or legs but can affect any part of the body, depending on the mechanism of injury.

Overuse injuries, on the other hand, stem from frequent repetitions of a movement that is not optimal for our joints, muscles, or other tissues. These can be caused by improper techniques, use of the wrong equipment, bad posture, or muscular imbalances. Overuse injuries mainly affect the back and lower extremities such as the hips, knees, and ankles. Examples of overuse injuries include lower back pain, tendonitis, and patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Tips to minimize injuries

Here are some quick tips and tricks to keep you safe and healthy while enjoying the snow.

  • Warm up before starting
    • It’s important to get your muscles moving and your blood flowing before hitting the slopes. Doing a quick warm up before heading out will help reduce the chances of straining any muscles. Don’t forget about your arms when you’re warming up.
  • Stay warm
    • Be sure to bundle up and wear enough clothing to stay warm while you’re outside. When exposed to cold temperatures, muscles are more susceptible to injuries such as strains and tears. Dress in layers so you can easily adjust according to the weather and conditions.
  • Make sure you have the right equipment
    • Having the right equipment that’s properly fitted to you and your style of skiing is a quick and easy way to prevent unnecessary injuries. Whether it’s the length of your skis, the height of your poles, or the size of your boots, having the proper equipment plays an important role in keeping your body safe and preventing any compensations that could lead to overuse injuries. Consult a professional when buying, renting, or adjusting any equipment.
  • Ease back into it
    • If it’s been a few months since you last went out skiing, be sure to slowly ease back into it. Our bodies take some time to readjust to the very specific movements of skiing. By slowly reintroducing ourselves to the sport, we decrease our chances of both overuse injuries as well as mistakes that can lead to falls.
  • Listen to your body
    • Last but not least, ours bodies are always talking to us so be sure to listen! If something isn’t feeling right or is causing you any pain, whether it’s a technique, a movement, or a piece of equipment, have it checked out. Try a different technique, get some advice from a fellow skier, or have your equipment looked at. Pain and discomfort are the body’s way of saying something’s not right.

Help is available when needed

If ever you develop any pain or discomfort that persists and prevents you from skiing or performing any of the other activities you usual do, consult one of our physiotherapists. Drop in or call us at 613-424-7852 to schedule a 1-hour assessment. One of our physiotherapists will assess your condition and set up a personalized treatment plan to have you back out skiing and enjoying the rest of the season as soon as possible!

Jason Bellefleur
Jason Bellefleur is a multi-award-winning physiotherapist. Most recently, he was recognized as a 2016 Ottawa Forty Under 40 recipient and received numerous awards from the Orléans Chamber of Commerce (the 2011 Young Business Person of the Year, the 2012 Healthcare Professional of the Year and the 2014 Business Person of the Year awards). Jason is proud to be an Orléans resident and to raise his family in a bilingual community. He enthusiastically promotes local business within the Orléans area and frequently supports and participates in local events. Jason was recognized for his community involvement by receiving the Orleans 150 Community Builder award in 2017 by Ottawa-Orléans MPP Marie-France Lalonde. Jason firmly believes in high-quality one-on-one physiotherapy interventions. His treatment approach emphasizes hands-on intervention, continued client education, and active involvement by the individual to help them reach their full potential. By opening a clinic that offers 'Higher Standards of Care,' Jason wants his patients to feel confident that they receive the highest level of patient care available. As a result, he is also preventing injury and helping to improve their health and well-being.

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