How to Prevent Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries This Winter

How to Prevent Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries This Winter | UPMC Italy

Gliding down the slopes is an ideal way to burn calories while having fun, but it's crucial to be cautious to prevent injuries. Besides the thrilling descents, both skiers and snowboarders, whether amateurs or professionals, face risks related to inadequate equipment and insufficient athletic preparation. Preventing snow-related injuries requires a combination of awareness, physical readiness, and appropriate gear. Investing time in preparation and adapting to environmental conditions can significantly reduce the risk of injuries, allowing everyone to enjoy the winter season on the slopes to the fullest.

Why Do Injuries Happen?

In skiing and snowboarding, just like in any sport, there's always a chance of injuries. Furthermore, these winter activities are influenced by weather conditions, temperatures, and altitude, which can have negative impacts. For instance, at higher altitudes, lower oxygen levels may lead to increased breathing rates and fluid loss, reducing athletic performance and elevating the risk of injuries. Some factors contributing to injuries include:

  • Adverse weather conditions.
  • Altitude-related issues.
  • Dehydration.
  • Falls.
  • Improper behaviors (skiing on slopes beyond one's skill level, disregarding signs, etc.).
  • Inadequate equipment.

What Are the Most Common Injuries?

Even experienced skiers and snowboarders, well-equipped and prepared, may experience injuries. Among the most common ones are:

  • Knee ligament sprains, tears, and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) strains. They represent a significant percentage of injuries, with about 30-40% of slope incidents involving knee injuries.
  • Injuries to the neck, spine, wrist, hand, and head. Concussions account for about 10-15% of incidents, while wrist and hand injuries constitute approximately 15-25% of injuries reported by skiers and snowboarders.
  • Shoulder dislocations or fractures. They account for about 5-10% of injuries.

How to Prevent Slope Injuries?

To ensure personal and others' safety, it's essential to take various preventive measures:

  • Appropriate clothing. Dressing in layers, wearing wind-resistant clothing, hats, gloves or mittens, and 100% UV protection sunglasses help shield from cold and extreme weather conditions. Also, apply sunscreen with a high SPF to protect the skin from harmful sun rays.
  • Knowledge of rules and conditions. Being familiar with slope rules is essential. Signage indicates path difficulties and provides critical information such as off-piste danger or adverse weather conditions. It's advisable to explore new paths starting from lower difficulty levels, regardless of personal skill level.
  • Optimal physical condition. Maintaining good fitness levels is crucial. A balanced training regimen encompassing cardiovascular activities (fitness), strength exercises (weights), and flexibility (stretching) prepares the body for the physical challenges of skiing and snowboarding.
  • Proficiency with lifts. Understanding the correct operation and use of ski lifts is fundamental. Accidents can occur when unaware of lift ascent and descent procedures, like not lowering safety bars or not paying attention to other skiers or snowboarders when exiting lifts.
  • Use proper equipment. Gear must be suitable and in good condition. Well-fitted boots, correctly adjusted bindings, helmets, skis, or boards matching your size and skill level are vital to prevent injuries from inadequate equipment.

In the event of an injury, UPMC has highly specialized orthopedic and physiotherapy services that can collaborate on a treatment and recovery plan. Learn more about our services: