How Beginning Skiers can Avoid Injury - Advice from a Vail Orthopedic Surgeon
5 Ways New Skiers Can Avoid Injury on the Slopes
It's the holiday season, and if you are new to the wonderful winter sport of skiing, chances are this is the time that you'll be venturing onto the mountain with family, friends, and loved ones to try your hand at schussing down the slopes. The good news is that there is plenty of room for everyone! As an avid skier myself, I can say that all of us "locals" are glad to have you.
Now let me put on my "Sports Doc" hat and switch gears a little bit to talk about safety. As a beginner or novice skiier, there's no doubt that you are raring to get out there on the mountain and show your stuff- and it doesn't take long to find examples of other skiiers and snowboarders doing things that might look easy, but actually take years of practice and experience. Which leads me to my first tip:
1. Don't Push Your Limits. #skisafely
One of the fantastic things about skiing is that it's one of those sports that you can truly enjoy for a lifetime-- and improve at each and every time you are on the hill. So don't push your limits to the extend that you feel out of control or unsafe. Trust me, you'll be able to tune in to when this is happening.
From a physiological standpoint, understand that many of the movements that you'll be doing while skiing are, in a sense, new to the body. Which leads me to my next point:
2. Get Lessons/Learn Proper Technique
Bad technique + inexperience can lead to injuries. So minimize the risk to your body AND fast-track your learning by ponying up for a professional lesson. Lessons are often catered specifically to your individual skill level and can do the following:
- Teach you basic safety skills
- Help you learn how to stop quickly and effectively
- Teach you proper turning skills
- Help you to adjust your equipment for a more comfortable experience
- Increase your overall confidence
3. Get in Shape
Although skiing may look easy, it can actually be very physically demanding. You will push your body, you will get tired, and you will experience moments where you are exerting more energy than you expected to. So...
If you know you have a ski vacation coming up, get ready for it by preparing your body. Spend a few days at the gym strengthening your legs and your core. In this category, a little preparation can go a long way. If you are in good shape physically, you avoid a tired body, and a tired body is more prone to injury.
4. Learn How to Fall
An out-of-control skiier careening down the mountain is NO BUENO. This scenario puts everyone at risk...but we all find ourselves here at some point. So one of the thing you'll learn in a professional lesson is not to be afraid to fall on purpose.
While falling might sound like a painful proposition, the truth is, you are going to stop somehow, and we don't want your fall to involve another skiier, a tree, or some kind of man-made feature. So if you start to feel out of control, sit your butt down, slow down, fall sideways, and choose a little mini-wipeout over a possible injury cataclysm.
5. Stay Hydrated & Rested
The body needs water, especially when it's being pushed beyond it's normal limits. And if you are a beginning skier, you'll certainly be doing this. Much like an athlete in a team sport such as basketball or soccer, you'll be drawing on your personal water reserves every time you take a run down the hill. Consider carrying a bottle of water in your jacket to make hydration on the mountain even easier.
Similar concept with rest. Taking a break between runs can go a long way when it comes to replentishing your energy and focus. The good thing: rest and hydration go hand in hand. So have a little downtime, enjoy some water or a non-sugary, non-alcohol drink (those can wait til apres-ski) and get back out there on the slopes.