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Hitting the Slopes Gently
Reduce the risk of snowboarding and skiing injury this winter
By Tara Madden
The two main causes of injury among snowboarders and skiers are falls and collisions. Help reduce injury risk and severity with pre-season dry training.
Snowboarders need to stabilize and strengthen their upper extremities (e.g., arms and shoulders), while skiers need to strengthen their lower extremities, specifically quads and hamstring muscles. Core strength training is also important for both sports.
Often when your knees get tired, more force is exerted on your spine with each bump. Strengthening your back and core muscles will provide you with extra strength and flexibility and will help your body better manage the rigors of skiing and snowboarding. And remember, stretching is important before and after any exercise.
More hints
Take a refresher lesson or two at the beginning of the season to shake the cobwebs out of any rusty techniques and to correct any bad habits.
The first run and last run of the day should be on easier slopes. Most injuries happen near the end of the day when slope enthusiasts are fighting both fatigue and poorer snow conditions.
Snowboarding and alpine skiing injury comparisons:
  • Injury patterns differ between alpine skiing and snowboarding, although incidence of injury is about the same for both—with five injuries per 1000 visits to the slopes.
  • Snowboarders tend to receive more upper extremity fractures, two-and-a-half times more than skiers. They also incur more ankle injuries than skiers and can suffer significant tailbone injuries.
  • Snowboarding injuries are usually minor in nature, like sprains, strains, fractures and contusions. Serious injuries usually only occur as a result of direct trauma to affected organs.
  • Studies show skiers have a higher risk for spinal injury than snowboarders, with knee injuries common among skiers but usually only seen in experienced snowboarders. (this sentence doesn’t make sense to me??? Should it be “inexperienced” snowboarders?)
  • Skiers often injure their thumbs due to pole use, while thumb injuries in snowboarders are almost non-existent.
If you experience back, muscle or joint pain related to winter sports, consult a chiropractor. Chiropractors are experts in these conditions and are specifically trained to diagnose and effectively treat them. More information on chiropractic, including where to find a chiropractor near you, is available at www.albertachiro.com.
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