For Bay Area skiers and snowboarders, the recent stormy weather means one thing-snow is on the way. Soon the roads up to Tahoe will be clogged with anxious snow lovers on their way to ski favorite runs at Squaw, Heavenly and Sugar Bowl. While it is extremely popular, Alpine skiing and snowboarding are sports that come with a risk of knee injury. However no injury is inevitable and several techniques can be taken to minimize the risk and stay on the slopes.
The most important step in a pre-season skiing program is a comprehensive leg strengthening program. The sports medicine literature is full of research validating the effectiveness of leg strengthening and coordination training in minimizing the risk of injury with sports, especially in women. As researchers also point to a lack of core stability and coordination as an independent risk for injury, core stability training should also be included in a comprehensive program.
Another related cause is stopping skiing before fatigue becomes a limiting factor as an all too common refrain is the “last run of the day” injury. Interestingly a study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that recreational skiers, when fatigued, changed their technique to a more “uncontrolled” style rather than properly using tired muscles. Unfortunately uncontrolled skiing frequently means injury-prone skiing.
Other important factors include using a multi-directional release binding as well as a proper binding setup. Not surprisingly, first time skiers and snowboarders are at increased risk of injury for a variety of factors. In addition to improper equipment and setup, the authors of this study also implicate insufficient conditioning as a reason for the greater threat.
So use the rain as an excuse to hit the gym before you hit the mountain. The following exercises will get your legs tuned up so you can ski or snowboard longer and hopefully avoid injury.
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