The news that Lindsey Vonn has crashed out of this year’s ski season – for the third time in four years – puts the spotlight on skiing and knee injuries.
At the beginning of the month she was racing in Andorra, holding her position as the woman’s overall World Cup leader, when a nasty fall resulted in three hairline fractures in the tibial plateau. Vonn announced on her FaceBook page that they were significant enough to mean that her leg would not be “sufficiently stable to permit me to safely continue skiing”.
Since 2013, the list of injuries Vonn has suffered while competing is impressive, with three torn knee ligaments resulting in two knee reconstructive surgery ops and she has also broken her tibia twice and her ankle once. Vonn has pulled out of this year’s season as her aim is to race in the world championships in St Moritz in 2017 and the Winter Olympics the following year, but even for those that enjoy less competitive skiing, this is a sport that has a high risk of incurring knee injuries.
The most common knee-ski injury is damage to the anterior cruciate ligament. The ACL is one of the ligaments that hold the knee together and a severe twist – easily incurred when skiing – can instantly result in a partial or complete tear. Quick-release bindings on skis have helped but here are some tips on how to minimise incurring a knee injury on the slopes:
# 1 Be prepared
Being near or at your ideal weight and being fit and strong in advance of your ski holiday will lessen the chance of incurring an injury.
# 2 Book a ski instructor
Even if it’s not your first time, a ski instructor can improve your technique, therefore putting less pressure on the knee.
# 3 Make sure you’re set up properly
Badly-adjusted skis or bindings are more likely to cause injury so be honest about your ability – and weight – when hiring skis.
# 4 Beware skiing slowly!
Whilst you need to be vigilant at all times, people naturally concentrate when they are going fast and, in reality, most injuries occur when skiing slowly because the bindings don’t release, especially in slushy snow. So be extra careful and maintain concentration at all times.
# 5 Don’t overstretch yourself
When muscle fatigue sets in then you’re more likely to injure yourself so ensure you get plenty of rest. However, don’t opt for the apres-ski; alcohol or a hangover will slow your reaction times.
#6 Or take up snowboarding…
Although studies have found that learner boarders are more likely to occur injury than beginner skiers, the knees are less likely to be affected because both feet are strapped onto one board and they are pointing in same direction which prevents the knee from twisting. Snowboarders are actually more likely to occur injury to the upper limbs; shoulder injuries as a result of falling forward or wrist fractures and head injuries from toppling backwards.
The best advice for those that have incurred a knee injury on the slopes is to immediately seek expert advice. To book a consultation at either Mr Jonathan Webb’s London or Bristol clinics call 08450 60 44 99.