All athletes have experienced it some time or another… An aching pain or injury that halts the sport and forces one to take a step back and heal. Whether you run track and have to deal with a pulled hamstring, or play lacrosse and have unbearable pain in your shoulder, it’s typical to run into a roadblock.
You can use it as a time to learn how to take better care of your body to prevent any further injuries. But out of all of the sports and recreational activities that exist, it’s fair to say that skiing on weak knees is as painful as it gets. Knee injuries are indeed a common impairment in Alpine skiers, especially as it pertains to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). And although there’s many different ways that you can injure your knee, the two most common scenarios are termed the Phantom Foot and the Boot Induced.
The Phantom Foot ACL injury pertains to the tail of the ski acting as a lever against the human foot, which points in the opposite direction. When skiing downhill, this lever can cause twisting and bending force to the knee in combination with the stiff back of the ski boot. The Boot Induced ACL injury, on the other hand, explains a type of injury in which skiers are off balance as they make a hard landing from a jump. Both common types of injuries are easy to avoid with proper education.
To learn more in depth about these two types of injuries, visit vermontskisafety.com. But in the meantime, explore our personal tips for skiing with bad knees before your next trip to the mountain.
1. Proper Technique
The most obvious tip right off the bat is to remember proper technique as you carve down the slopes. As a refresher, you will want your hands and weight forward, and your hips, knees, and ankles flexing equally. And does anyone else remember the french fry tip!? Keep your skis parallel like your favorite shoestring french fries to prevent the skis from crossing over or tripping you up.
Hey, don’t be embarrassed to try it… a ski lesson at the start of the season is always a great way to reinforce proper technique. Regardless of how many years of experience you have under your belt, lessons are for everyone. Your muscles will thank you for the refresher course and you’ll be more confident in your abilities, preventing any harm to those precious knees of yours.
3. Warm Up
A simple warm up before a full day of skiing is an awesome way to fire up your muscles and strengthen your knees. In fact, I would say it’s absolutely necessary for all skiers. Exercises like double leg squats, single leg squats, side-to-side skaters and side planks are a great way to start. But be careful here – you will want to make sure you have the correct form while doing these warm ups or else you could do more harm than good! Additionally, you should stretch your hamstrings, calves, quads, glutes and arms for at least 30 minutes beforehand!
4. Don’t Forget to Rest!
Even if you have planned a long weekend getaway at your favorite resort, it is important to schedule a day of rest. Muscle fatigue is at its highest 48 hours after you start skiing, so be sure to take the third day off. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid potential risk of a knee injury, or exacerbate an already present discomfort.
5. Avoid Alcohol
This should go without saying, but I feel inclined to touch on it… alcohol is a for sure no-no. Alcohol slows down your reaction time and may make you attempt things you know you should avoid. It’s a sure fire way to aggravate your knees and a recipe for an ACL injury.
6. Stay Healthy
Let’s face it, the more you weigh, the more you are negatively impacting your knees. If you are serious about skiing and the health of your knees, commit to a healthy diet and exercise. You’ll feel lighter, brighter and have an easier time maneuvering around the resort.
7. Stay in Your Comfort Zone
You have probably heard it time and time again that stepping out of your comfort zone is where growth occurs. Although I agree with this idea, when it comes to skiing, you definitely have to take it slow. Bad knees or not, you should always think smart as you approach different runs. If your intuition is telling you something doesn’t feel right, then you should always listen to it. Injuries are more likely to occur if you are not confident. And if you already have any damage to your knees, you’ll want to protect their safety with everything you’ve got.
8. Invest in Knee Bindings
Knee Bindings are a great choice to reduce the risk of ACL injuries in skiing. While ordinary bindings offer two release mechanisms, knee bindings contain a third dimension that releases the boot directly sideways right before any knee injury is likely to happen.
Above all else, be easy on your body. It’s a beautiful machine that works for you 24/7, so have respect for all that it does. Stay safe, stay smart and keep these tips in your back pocket for your next day of skiing!
For additional tips check out our blog, 6 Tips for Staying Energized on the Slopes.