Another Season, Another Knee Injury
It seems that skiing and knee injuries go hand in hand. Every season thousands of skiers blow their knee, tear their meniscus, fracture their tibial plateau, or suffer some other season-ending injuries. This seems only to increase for weekend warriors or ski vacationers. It’s a travesty in my opinion. I understand that some injuries are not preventable. Surely a tree branch that catches your calf and throws you into a death spiral, while ensuring that your ski goes the other direction, is a freak accident. These events are acute and can happen to skiers of all skill levels. One-off freak accidents are to be expected and there’s no amount of pre-season prep and in-season maintenance that can eliminate these events.
That being said, and excuse me for using my limited sample size, I personally know one skier or snowboarder every year that has blown their knee for going on 21 seasons. Many of these incidents are minor. They are not the result of acute trauma but rather small, otherwise insignificant twists and strains. I’m talking about skis double ejecting from low din settings into soft snow, slipping due to changes in snow conditions, minor falls, cat track accidents, and collisions. Of course, within that sample, there are also your major mogul explosions, coming up short on massive tables, and high speed falls.
So what are we to do? How can we impact this continual issue that skiers and the industry face? If I was an orthopedist, surgeon, or doctor, there’s no place I’d rather live than a ski town. The reason being, most skiers and snowboarders unfortunately don’t see the value in real, programmed, off-season training and in-season maintenance. These professionals get to wait at the bottom of the mountain and collect all the years injured skiers. Many of whom could have reduced the risk of their suffered injury, minimized the effects, or eliminated the trauma all together, simply by adopting and adhering to a structured ski-specific training program. A program that focuses on building balance, joint strength, lower and upper body synergy, tendon and ligament durability, and proprioception.
It’s no surprise that the best athletes in the world all take their off-season very seriously. All the while, training has shifted from a 1980s bodybuilding, segmented muscle focus to a functional, dynamic approach, that incorporates a healthy blend of bodyweight, explosive, plyometric, and strength exercises. Unfortunately most skiers don’t have the experience or knowledge of these measures to properly prepare themselves.
Instead, they believe that they will ski themselves into shape. I’m just gonna call a spade a spade at this point and mention that this mantra is total BS. Sure, you can reduce the degree of in-season soreness by skiing incrementally longer as you approach the bulk of the season or your ski trip. But that’s like saying you’re going to run yourself into run shape. How absurd an idea! All consistent runners know that a minimal amount of strength training is essential to your longevity, joint health, ability to run in multiple environments, and fight the onset of overuse injuries. In short, they all train. And those that don’t, the ones that try to run themselves into running shape, suffer from shin splints, knee aggravation, plantar fasciitis, patellar misalignment, impact injuries, hip impingement. The list goes on.
I encourage you all to train. But more importantly, I encourage you to motivate your fellow skiers to train. Take is seriously even if skiing is just a hobby. Watching your good friends suffer knee injuries that could have otherwise been avoided (this is entirely subjective) is painful. Seeing them suffer, have to go through surgery, rehab, and then enter into a mandatory strength regiment just to keep their baseline function is unfortunate to say the least.
Once you begin to train consistently, year round, you will notice many instances in which training saves you. It will be different for every person. The logistics of these realizations are impossible to predict but after 21 years of skiing, thousands of client sessions, and helping hundreds of individuals come back from knee and back injuries, all I can say is YOU have the ability to reduce the risk of injury by committing to a training program that is designed specifically for the sports you love to do.
As always, I am here to support you, inform you, and help you navigate the challenges of properly training. Never hesitate to reach out directly via DM or email. Be well, stay safe, and ski to your full potential!