Preventing Ski Injuries
by John Freeman, MD
(Dr. Freeman is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He is a U.S. Alpine Ski Team physician.)
The following precautions will help you avoid ski injuries:
- Ski in accordance with your physical condition. Skiing, like any other sport, requires muscular strength and flexibility for control. The more control you have, the safer you will be.
- Have all of your equipment checked before you make your first ski run. Make sure everything is compatible and properly adjusted.
- Allow for the altitude. At high altitudes, less oxygen gets to your muscles. This means your muscles get tired more quickly. Take it easy for the first day or two, and ski at lower elevations for a few days.
- Take time to learn your way around the mountain. Taking a lesson or having a friend guide you may prevent a situation that is beyond your ability.
- Know the ski slope rating system. A black diamond run on Buttermilk, the intermediate and beginner area, may have a different degree of difficulty than a black diamond on Aspen Mountain, the area for experienced skiers.
- Do a few stretches before you take your first run. Warming up your muscles will help them respond as you ask them to.
- Be aware of snow conditions. Even different slopes within the same area may have different ski conditions. An unexpected patch of ice can send you and your skis sailing.
- Wear a helmet to help protect your head from injury.
- Don't drink alcohol at lunch. Most ski accidents happen in the afternoon. The effects of muscle fatigue—less strength and control—are increased by the consumption of alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, more relaxation is not always a benefit to your skiing.
- For a physician referral, call 970.544.1296 or email Ginny Dyche.