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Preventing Injuries on the Slopes


WRITTEN BY: Sleep Medicine
Monday, January 27th, 2014

Downhill skiing can result in both serious and minor injuries if you’re not prepared. While some athletes participate in other sports during the off-season to stay in shape, many skiers are weekend warriors and return to the slopes after months of waiting for snow.

Strength, flexibility, endurance, and agility drills are essential for both recreational and expert skiers to:

  • Prevent fatigue
  • Improve performance
  • Reduce the risk of injury

No matter what type of a skier you are, you could wind up with minor aches, muscle pain, or a serious injury if you don’t spend a little time preparing for the demands of your sport.

Workout Specifics for Skiers

To get ready for ski season, a good rule of thumb is to work out three to five times a week for one to two hours. Workout programs should focus on:

  • Flexibility
  • Jump training
  • Core and balance
  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Upper and lower extremity exercises

Intensity of strength: two sets of 15 repetitions that create fatigue between the eighth and 12th repetition.

 Preventing Knee Injuries

More than 60 percent of all skiing injuries occur in the lower extremities. Because the most common injury is ligament damage in the knee, it may help to participate in a program that reduces the risk of non-contact ACL injuries, such as the ACL Injury Prevention Program at UPMC.

To help promote leg strength, this program includes:

  • Warm-up
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening
  • Plyometric training
  • Sport-specific agility training

To prevent injury, it’s also important to use proper technique during jumping moves. Jump straight up and down without excessive side-to-side movement, and aim for soft landings.

Tips for Staying Safe on the Slopes

According to the National Ski Patrol Responsibility Code, the following tips can help you enjoy your time and stay safe on the slopes:

  • Stay in control at all times
  • Allow the right-of-way to skiers ahead of you
  • Look uphill to merge on a trail
  • Do not obstruct trails or remain in a blind spot
  • Do not congregate in a group in the middle of the hill
  • Use devices to prevent runaway skis

Depending on your age and fitness level, some exercises are not recommended. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

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Sleep Medicine

UPMC’s Sleep Medicine Center — accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine — is the only multidisciplinary sleep medicine facility in western Pennsylvania. The Sleep Medicine Center performs approximately 2,000 sleep studies annually for adult patients with all types of sleep disorders. The staff at the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center includes board certified physicians, certified nurse practitioners, and registered sleep laboratory technologists. Read More