Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding Injuries

The Twin Cities has a number of ski hills at all edges of the metro and surrounding suburbs making this an accessible and very popular winter activity. With the right equipment, skill level, training, and attention to safety injury is significantly minimized.

Preventing Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries

Here are some tips for how to avoid injury while skiing or snowboarding:

Equipment Matters

Make sure your boots have an appropriate fit. Loose and sloppy boots can compromise how well you can control your skis, and boots that are too tights can make skiing very uncomfortable, ruining a day on the hill. Many instructors have said appropriate fitting boots are more important than having the fanciest skis on the market.

Helmets don’t make skiers invincible

Head injuries don’t just happen to those who come in close contact with trees in the back country. Risk may also come from colliding with other skiers or hitting hard packed snow and ice. The number of head injuries and concussions has drastically reduced in recent years with the use of helmets as added protection and more people on the slopes are choosing to wear them versus not.

Warm up

It’s cold out there. During the first few runs the legs and hips may be more tight and stiff, and with the added element of cold temperatures your body may not be ready to start first tracks right away on the double black runs. Spending some time in the lodge stretching the hips and legs will certainly make you more limber before making some turns. Making a few runs on easier terrain will help get the blood moving as well as get you in tune with snow conditions for the day.

Learn how to fall

If you are a new skier, it is important to learn the mechanics of falling. It may seem counterintuitive if your instructor makes you practice falling on the ground rather than staying upright, but there is a safe way to fall down to protect yourself that is easy to learn. Spend time with an instructor to perfect this skill.

Common Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding Injuries and Conditions

Forearm Fracture

The forearm is made up of two bones, the radius and ulna, which can be broken from a fall or a direct blow to the forearm. When one or both of these bones are broken, it is considered a forearm fracture. These bones are the connection between the elbow and wrist, and are vital to the quality of movement of this area.

Learn More

Knee Ligament Injury (ACL, PCL, MCL)

The majority of stabilization in the knee comes from the ligaments. The cruciate ligaments are made up of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which cross to form an “x” shape inside the knee. The collateral ligaments provide additional stability on the inside of the knee through the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and outside of the knee through the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The LCL is not addressed in the following information, as it is seldom injured. Ligament injuries can come from sports-related movements such as pivoting, jumping, stopping quickly, or a direct impact to the knee. These injuries can happen to people of many ages and activity levels, and is by no means limited to athletes.

Learn More

Skier’s Thumb/Gamekeepers Thumb

An injury to the soft tissue (ligament) that connects the bones of the thumb which is essential for the thumb to grasp. Any hard force on the thumb that pulls the thumb backward or to the side can damage or even completely tear this ligament. Complete tearing of the ligament requires surgical intervention. It can either be sudden (skiers thumb) or chronic (gamekeepers thumb). In skiing, the injury commonly occurs if the ski pole pulls back on the thumb or if a skier falls on an outstretched hand. In other sports, it can occur over time with repetitive motions that stress the thumb such as blocking in football or setting in volleyball.

Learn More