Nothing ruins a great day on the slopes like an unexpected injury or accident. Injuries are a fact of life for any sport, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be prevented. Over at The Joint Chiropractic, they see and treat a wide range of ski and snowboard related injuries every year. Knee injuries are the most common, though shoulder, head, and back injuries are also prevalent. We asked one of the chiropractors over at The Joint, Dr. Sean Smith, how skiers and boarders can prevent these injuries from occurring. Here are the tips he gave us:
- Maintain fitness. Be sure you are in good physical condition before you start the season. If you are out of shape, select runs that are less challenging to start and gradually build your way up to more challenging trails. Many ski injuries happen at the end of the day, when people overexert themselves to finish that one last run before the day’s end. A majority of these injuries can easily be prevented if you prepare by keeping in good physical condition and stopping when you are tired or in pain.
- Warm up. Research studies have shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes. Take a couple of slow ski runs to complete your warm up.
- Hydrate. Even mild levels of dehydration can affect physical ability and endurance. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after skiing.
- Get Adjusted. Make sure that your spine is functioning at its best. Even small misalignment can cause you to lose some of your normal range of motion and reduce endurance. A regular spinal adjustment will help you to perform at your optimal level and reduce back pain.
- Ensure Appropriate Equipment
- Wear several layers of light, loose and water- and wind-resistant clothing for warmth and protection. Layering allows you to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature.
- Buy or rent boots and bindings that have been set, adjusted, maintained and tested by a ski shop that follows American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard job practices.
- Check the binding of each ski before skiing. The bindings must be properly adjusted to your height and weight.
- Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles and a helmet. Helmets are sport-specific, so do not wear a bike helmet on the slopes. Ski helmets should be worn.
- Ensure a Safe Environment
- Stay on marked trails and avoid potential avalanche areas such as steep hillsides with little vegetation.
- Watch out for rocks and patches of ice on the ski trails.
- Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature. Make adjustments for icy conditions, deep snow powder, and wet snow.
Have fun and be safe out there! If you are injured or have back pain during or after your day on the slopes, don’t wait to be treated. Head to one of The Joint Chiropractic locations in the valley and they’ll take care of you!