Our Physio Caitlin Reid and friends hiking the Toilet Bowl face up The Remarkables, NZ in 2016

How your gear can prevent ski injuries

Snow is falling across the country so this month we’re focused on the ski season. If you work a full time desk job though, a full weekend of riding can be really tough on your body, and can even lead to nasty injuries. Here are a few key things to think about before launching head first into the ski season in 2017.

Get your gear tuned to prevent injury

Ski and board tuning gets you sliding faster and turning harder, but it’s also really important to help you prevent injury.

All the fit tips below apply to rental gear too, so make sure your gear fits properly before walking out of the rental shop.


If you’re a skier:

Prevent ankle injuries with good fitting boots

Double check your boots fit tightly, and your foot is supported. If you’re not sure, take them to a dedicated ski boot shop or boot fitter.

It’s so easy to get ankle strains and peroneal injuries in boots that are too big for you, mostly when your foot is turning within your boot. With the amazing heat moulding technology today, there’s no excuse for poor fitting ski boots.

Prevent knee injuries with clean ejecting bindings

You’ve heard the stories where someone describes a ski getting stuck in the snow, but instead of their heel ejecting, their leg gets twisted a way it really shouldn’t. This is one of the main causes of ligamentous injury in the knee, especially the unhappy triad where the ACL, MCL and the medial meniscus are injured.

Take your skis to a ski tuner, and while you’re getting those edges sharpened for ultra-slick turns, make a point to ask them to double check your bindings.

Tip: Don’t let them tighten them too tight, as it’s important that they eject when needed.

Ski Injury Prevention Blog - Viva Physio

Our Physio Caitlin Reid excited for a bluebird day up Cardrona in 2016

If you’re a snowboarder:

Angle your high backs to prevent knee pain

Double check the angle of your high backs of your bindings, as a small forward angle can help prevent knee injuries as it forces you to flex your knees, engaging the stabilisers around the joint and preventing patellofemoral pain.  Don’t overdo the forward angle though, as it can over-stress your calves and you won’t be able to turn or traverse on your toe edge as you’ll be far too fatigued.

There’s no stock standard angle you should have – find your own sweet spot with trial and error in your lounge room.

Add inserts, foot beds or heel grips for snug-fitting boots

Snowboard boots are much more mobile than ski boots, but they still need to be tightened to create firm support for your foot, making sure your ankle can’t twist within them. As it’s hard to get the exact right fit for you, head to a boot fitter and insert as many extras as you need to get the right fit such as heel grips, foot beds or shin inserts for slim ankles.


Ski Injury prevention tips – Key Points

Skiers and Snowboarders: Wear a helmet

The rate of concussion in snow sports is mind-blowingly high. Only 10% of concussions involve a loss of consciousness; just hitting your head during a normal day skiing can cause impaired concentration, headache and decreased problem solving ability for days, even weeks. You’ve got work on Monday remember! Don’t risk it. Wear a helmet.

Skiers:

Do

  • Buy very snug boots as the foam on the inside will pack down quickly.
  • Utilise the power straps or Velcro straps that run along the upper part of the boot, making it nice and snug around your tibia to prevent rotation of your lower leg.
  • Ensure bindings are fitted to you and eject properly
  • Clip on your buckles on the way to the lift so your foot has gotten accustomed to the snug-fit of the boots, then tighten before you get on the chair.
  • Get your edges sharpened. Aussie slopes are known for their ice and busy crowds, so make sure you can stop quickly when needed, and won’t slide off the mountain thanks to good edges

Don’t

  • Layer your socks. Two layers of socks won’t keep you any warmer, they’ll give you blisters and you’ll lose responsiveness in your feet. Tighten your boots more, and wear one pair of merino, high quality socks instead.


Snowboarders:

Do

  • Get your edges sharpened for the reasons above in the ski section (unless you’re riding park and lots of rails, in which case absolutely don’t!)
  • Tighten your boots at your chalet as tight as they’ll go, then tighten them a bit more at the lift. If you have laces, try criss-crossing them then anchoring the long section around your upper boot. If you have the 2-part zonal system; Tighten the bottom section really tight first, then tighten each addition section one by one for a snug fit. If you have the Boa system; easy!
  • Wax your board the day before
  • Tighten your bindings onto your board, and tighten your high back screw – these are the ones that always get loose and you’ll lose your ankle support.

Don’t

  • Layer your socks – same reasons as above
  • Ride with your bindings too wide. You’ll find it harder to keep your knees bending over your toes, leading to knee pain.
  • Use a drill to tighten your bindings. If you need to change them up the mountain you’ll be in trouble (speaking from experience). Do it old school with a screw driver. 

Now your gear is in top shape for the season, look out for our next blog on how to prevent ski injuries with a few easy strengthening exercises.

If you have any questions, or would like to improve technique/efficiency please feel free to contact me at the clinic. [email protected].