The first snowfall ignites a hectic rush of ski enthusiasts headed for the freshly plowed slopes of the nearest mountain. Skiing is one of the most popular winter season activities, yet it also has the potential to lead to injuries.

This winter be prepared!

Safety on the slopes is an important part of enjoying your winter season. While accidents happen no matter your skill level or experience, there are tips and tricks to help avoid serious and permanent injuries.

While skiing focuses primarily on the lower extremities, common injuries may occur at any place on the body including the head, neck and shoulders, hands, and back.

Common injuries include:

  • Anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (the knee)
  • Concussions
  • Shoulder fracture, separation, and dislocation
  • Broken fingers and wrists
  • Herniated discs
  • Delayed onset soreness

How to Avoid Common Ski Injuries


Many common ski injuries occur when the skier has not conditioned their body properly. Conditioning should begin before you hit the slopes.

  • Flexibility: Making sure that your body is primed beforehand relies heavily on stretching and increasing flexibility. This helps avoid muscle tears and nerve damage. Focus on the lower extremities including the core.
  • Muscular Strength: Building up muscular strength helps you remain calm and in control, even when accidents happen. Focus on core and leg strength to strengthen muscles.
  • Agility & Endurance: Combining muscular strength with agility and endurance defines a beginner from a pro. Traditional exercises for agility include sprints, weighted walking, stair drills, and plyometrics. Endurance relies heavily on cardiovascular strength. Employ a regiment of biking (mountain, road, or stationary will do), running (make sure to include inclines), or swimming. Both agility and endurance conditioning also strengthens the heart, lungs, and legs.
  • ACL Injury Prevention Program: From brand new to advanced skiers, practicing the ACL injury prevention program is an effective way to train your mind and body to avoid situations that may put you at risk for injury. This includes steering clear of vulnerability, strengthening flexibility, muscles, and proprioception, and introducing plyometrics exercises. The program is designed for a 15-minute session that can be used in place of a warm-up.

Balance training should also be the main focus in a conditioning regiment, which can be accomplished with a balance board or balance exercises.  Explosive power training is also very helpful.  Explosive power aids in speed and agility. These exercises include sustained heavy breathing such as sprints.

Stay Alert

Heading down the slope with fatigue is one of the easiest ways to accrue injuries. Make sure to get enough sleep the night before. A conditioned body also needs rest, especially before a long day or weekend of activity.

It’s also a good idea to eat a large, sustainable breakfast. Sustainable foods such as grains and eggs are great to keep your muscles from tiring. Also, avoid coffee. Choose a highly caffeinated green or black tea instead. Teas may not provide the quick kick, but offer longer lasting alertness due to its slow release.

Established by Dr. Wieman Kretz in the 1960’s, Hampton Roads Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine provides quality orthopaedic services and care for the Hampton Roads community. With a highly trained team, HROSM prides itself on investment in the newest and most innovative knowledge for the best healthcare possible.

Dr. Swenson orthopedist

Dr. Jon Swenson