Skiing injury prevention

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As the winter season approaches so does the skiing season and with that comes a range of injuries. The most common injuries seen among skiers are knee sprains, specifically sprains or tears of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) or the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

kneesprainThe MCL attaches from the inside surface of the upper shin bone to the inner surface of the bottom thigh bone and helps keep the inside portion of the knee joint stable.

The ACL is a vital ligament for a skier. It attaches between the femur (thigh) bone and tibia (shin) bone and holds the knee stable in an anterior-posterior direction.

johnappel2MCL injuries in skiing occur with slow twisting falls where the direction of force is going from the outside of the knee to the inside or when beginners assume the “snowplough position” (see picture).

In this position you have to keep your legs turned inwards with your knees bent, to maintain your skis in a V point in front of you.

When in this position for lengthy periods a lot of stress is placed on the MCL and further strain is added as the snow plough width increases.

As you learn to ski with both skis pointing forwards you get faster, tend to move in and out of deeper knee bends and trial steeper slopes which means the knees have to endure extreme bending under load. At greater speeds and with sharper turns, falls will have more twisting force creating a valgus external rotation of the knee joint, resulting in ACL injuries.

matt1Three of the best strengthening exercises for the knee joint are shown right.  This is what up-and-coming skier Mathew Sweet does to get strong for the ski season.  We also find that they are great for limiting the risk of injury to either of these knee ligaments… matt2

To those of you who have had an ACL injury and ended up requiring a reconstruction, knee bracing is highly recommended if you wish to continue to ski and remain injury-free.

A recent study found that skiers who had undergone an ACL reconstruction at least two years ago and did not wear a brace while skiing were 2.74 times more likely to sustain a subsequent knee injury than those who did wear a brace.

bracePictured is one of the lightest and most protective braces on the market.

If you are looking to increase your time on the mountain over the winter and want to ensure your knees are in check or you are interested in buying a knee brace contact the team at Advance Physiotherapy.

www.advancephysio.co.nz

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