There’s nothing worse than getting hurt during ski season. Having to take time off from skiing in the winter can be maddening, especially when the conditions are good. I know from personal experience just how frustrating ski injuries can be. Two years ago I was skiing through a firm mogul field when I got going too fast. I didn’t crash, but I hit several large mogul gaps to hard, icy landings. When I finally managed to slow down, my lower back ached like it never had before. I drove home after that run. When I got back to my house and tried to get out of my car, I realized that I couldn’t. I was incapable of bending my back without doubling over in pain. It turned out that I had mildly compressed my lower vertebrae skiing that day, an injury that ultimately cost me a week’s worth of skiing. I was fortunate that particular injury wasn’t a season-ending one.
Luckily, it’s easy to avoid needless injuries like mine by making safe decisions and being proactive. Protecting one’s body from common ski related injuries is relatively straightforward. When it comes to protecting one’s spine, the best thing to do is simply be smart. This really boils down to avoiding cliffs and jumps with flat landings. Such landings deal the body, and particularly the spine, unnecessary impact that can lead to injuries like mine. Focus on hitting airs to steep landings where you can transition back to flatter terrain gradually rather than all at once. Your back will thank you.
Another simple way to protect the spine is by strengthening one’s core muscles. The core muscles can and should absorb the brunt of the landing impact. By keeping a tight core when the skis return to the snow, those muscles will help absorb the impact and spare your back. Furthermore, a strong set of core muscles will allow one to ski harder and with more control, further preventing accidental injury. Every skier and rider should work to include a core workout into their weekly routine to ensure their core muscles stay up to snuff.
Another common ski injury that can cause unnecessary suffering is shin bang. Shin bang is a feeling of discomfort or pain often focused along the outer part of the shin. It can make skiing unpleasant and at times downright unbearable. Unfortunately, if you have shin bang, the only real cure is rest. That’s why it is important to be proactive, as it is simple to avoid shin bang before it becomes a problem. The easiest thing to do is wear boots that fit you properly. If your foot can move around in the boot, or your heel is not staying in place, the boots are probably too big and will lead to future shin bang.
Skiing in the ‘back seat’ can also lead to shin bang. Skiing with your weight back rather than forward will inevitably lead to painful shin bang, as it puts stress on the muscles around the shin. Always push your shins against the tongues of your ski boots when skiing to ensure that you’re not in the back seat. These are just a few examples of how to protect oneself from common ski related injuries. There are plenty of other things one can do, like stretching and regularly tuning ski gear, to ensure that you’re not sidelined during the heart of winter. There’s nothing worse than being relegated to the couch when it’s dumping outside.