Knee Injuries From Skiing and Snowboarding
Snowboarding and Skiing Knee Injuries
Snowboarding and skiing season is ahead of us and that means shredding down the slopes with the brahj’s (broskis, homies, dudes, whatever you want to call it, but it’s normally not just ‘friends’). I’m down here in sunny San Diego, and us San Diegans gear up for places like Big Bear, Tahoe and Mammoth. Normally what people will think when they head down is how many people will be on the mountain? Will it be slush or powder? Did I bring the GoPro, wax, booze, ganja(it’s California) and so on? However, for someone that’s suffered a knee injury, one would think about other things such as whether my knee will hold up, what if I get hurt again, can I make sharp cuts, should I take big jumps and so on? These are all psychology tests you unintentionally give yourself day in and day out when you’ve suffered a knee injury. If you are this type of person that is worried about a knee injury, take a second to evaluate taking risks like “going big” and taking the “black diamond” slope. Ask yourself, is it really worth sacrificing your health and career – unless your snowboard for a living – to go through another 6-9 months of physical therapy again.
Who is at risk of a knee injury?
- Women 25 and over are 2.5x more likely to rupture their acl than any other demographic due to lack fitness, q-angle, wrong size ski boots playing a key role. In fact, up to half of all knee injuries are from loose-fitting or over-tightened ski boots.
- First time skiers and snowboarders have a higher chance of injuring their mcl due to the lack of basic techniques.
- Experienced snowboarders/skiers that take big jumps with chances of landing awkwardly with great force.
What do I check for when suffering a knee injury from snowboarding/skiing?
- Chances are you either hit your knee directly from a jump, landed awkwardly or your board got caught, forcing your knee to buckle. Check to recall if you heard a “pop” come from your knee. If you did, there are chances that you may have torn your acl.
- Swelling, bruising and pain are signs that you may have torn your acl, mcl and/or meniscus.
- Difficulty bending and straightening the knee.
- Pain on the inner side of your knee next to your knee cap is a sign for an mcl and/or meniscus injury.
- Knee feels extremely unstable and gives, making it very difficult to walk on top of the swelling and pain.
How do i treat my knee injury from skiing and snowboarding?
- Use the RICE technique. Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation, although, you probably won’t need ice in this weather. Don’t place anything cold directly on your skin as this can lead to frost bite and damage nerve endings.
- Depending on where you’ve been injured, it’s always best to have someone contact a park ranger to have you carted to their physician.
- Over-the-counter pain meds and prescriptions from your physician will you cope with the pain.
- You will need to use crutches to stay off your injured knee.
- Use a knee brace, but do not lock it at full-extension as your meniscus may lock your knee in place if it is damaged.
What are the causes of knee injuries when skiing?
- In the early 1990’s, “carving skis were introduced to improve turning capabilities compared to traditional skis because they were cut to enable one to stick to the surface when skiing. initially, these types of skis resulted in more knee injuries, but later helped prevent knee injuries. A theory for this was that those that started with carving skis did not have to adjust away from the traditional skis having never used them. – Ski-Injury.com
- Bindings failing to release at the right time causing a skier’s knee to buckle.
- Skiing/snowboarding for long periods of time.
- Pushing the skill level of one’s own abilities.
- Wearing the wrong sized equipment.
- Failing to adjust to the altitude.
- Not consuming enough water, over exhausting oneself.
- Skiing/snowboarding in areas that you’re not suppose to.
- Failure to follow mountain responsibility conduct code.
Snowboarding knee injuries:
- When in comes to snowboarding and knee injuries, it is normally correlated with the skill level of the snowboarder. With an experienced and skilled snowboarder comes bigger jumps full of aerial tricks. With big jumps comes big landings, and with big landings comes the risk of hard impacts on knees which is not uncommon to lead a torn acl. However, less experienced snowboarders are at a higher risk of knee injuries due to the lacked skill set to change directions.
- When a snowboarder seriously injures their knee, it is often from the deceleration and change of direction leading your board to plant and your knee to twist, rotate and “pop.” This pop you hear is your knee ligament being torn in half causing your knee to swell up with bleeding inside.
How to prevent knee injuries when snowboarding/skiing:
- Protective gear
- Following proper instructions.
- Common sense!
- Always stay in control. Stay in control of yourself and your skill level.
- People ahead of you have the right-of-way
- Stop in a safe area if you’re waiting for someone so you don’t get hit.
- Don’t veer off course.
- Use the lifts correctly and safely
If you think you’ve torn your acl, visit the link to learn more about the acl surgery process: