Snow Sport Injuries and How To Try and Avoid Them - 3rd Feb 2012 By Chiropractor Andrea Mcintyre

By: Phil Hayward

Andrea is a qualified chiropractor and started her talk by outlining who was particularly at risk of being injured whilst skiing and also which type of injury was most prevalent amongst skiers. Statistically <1% will sustain an injury requiring medical attention whilst skiing and you are more likely to be injured

  1. On your first day.
  2. If you are under 17.
  3. In the afternoon when you are tired.
  4. Skiing beyond your ability.
  5. Using ill-fitting equipment and clothing.

Main Injuries :-

  • 30% Knee
  • 15% Head/Face
  • 10% Shoulder
  • 9% Lower Leg
  • 6% Ankle
  • 5% Thumb

Main type of injury :-

  • 50% Sprains
  • 20% Fractures
  • 10% Lacerations
  • 7% Joint Injuries

Andrea's talk concentrated mostly on knee and head injuries.

There has been a decrease in the overall injury rate due to the introduction of shorter carving skis with a big reduction in lower limb fractures, because of better bindings and boot design.

In the last few years there has also been some decrease in serious knee sprains especially anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

Regarding ACL injuries, we know that certain situations increase the risk of this injury:

  • Attempting to get up whilst still moving after a fall.
  • Leaning right back on your skis or attempting to sit down after losing control.
  • Attempting to recover from an inevitable fall.

Warning Signs:

  • A feeling of a 'pop' or 'snap' at the time of injury and / or a large amount of swelling within an hour of injury (these may be signs of injury to the anterior cruciate ligament)
  • Inability to straighten your injured knee completely indicates significant cartilage damage


  1. WHEN YOU'RE DOWN, STAY DOWN - Don't try to get up if you've fallen until you stop sliding
  2. KEEP YOUR KNEES FLEXED - Don't fully straighten your legs when you fall - try and keep them bent
  3. DON'T LAND ON YOUR HANDS - Keep your arms facing upwards and forwards
  4. LAND WITH YOUR KNEES BENT - Don't jump unless you know where and how to land and always land on both skis with your knees bent.

Initial treatment for minor soft tissue injuries

  1. Protect - the injured area. Don't re-injure yourself. Seek advice from a physio if you're not sure if it's okay to re-exercise the injured area or not.
  2. Rest - the affected area as much as possible. Small, gentle movements are ok to keep the injured part mobile
  3. Ice - apply ice in a towel/cloth to the affected area for up to 15 minutes at a time, every 2 hours. Do not apply heat (including a soak in a bath!) for the first two days after injury. It will cause more swelling.
  4. Compression - apply an elasticated bandage to help minimise swelling
  5. Elevate - the affected area - use a sling or a foot rest where applicable
  6. Drugs - an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen is ideal and should be taken as soon as
    possible. Ideally an anti-inflammatory will have maximum effect if taken regularly for 5-7 days.


A show of hands amongst the ski club audience revealed that the majority of us now wear helmets whilst skiing.

Helmets help reduce the incidence of many head injuries such as those from glancing blows, impacts with hard snow / ice and chairlifts etc.

However..... There is no evidence that any helmet can prevent serious injury or death when the wearer hits an object at 25mph or more (the average speed of most intermediate skiers). So whilst helmet use is strongly recommended, it doesn't make you invincible, so controlled skiing is advised.

A helmet should conform to European (CE) standard EN1077 or one of the American standards, ASTM 2040 or Snell RS98.

To minimise the chance of injury whilst skiing, aim to build up Endurance, Strength and Balance by cycling, hill walking, circuit training, use of an X-trainer, ice skating, or roller blading.

Start any activity with dynamic stretches and finish with an aerobic cool down. It is also important to warm up and do these stretches before a day's skiing, something that is often neglected.

Andrea can be contacted at Dynamic Chiropractic in Sale

Andrea's talk and slideshow was really informative and provided us with some invaluable advice on how to try and avoid injuries whilst skiing. This was the last of our Social meetings this Season and was enjoyed by all.