5 Ways Skiers and Snowboarders Can Avoid Injury

Updated: Nov 28, 2018

by Dr. Terrell Joseph

We see a lot of skiers and snowboarders after on-mountain injuries. And we don't want you to be one of them. Use these tips to help avoid injury and stay out of my office!

1. Drink Plenty of Water

Dehydration is common in the mountains and causes your energy to decrease, which could potentially result in injury.

2. Ski to Your Ability & Stay Under Control

The phenomenon of the “weekend warrior”, who gets more easily fatigued versus the well-conditioned athlete, is a common factor in injuries at the end of the day. Furthermore, we see injuries in patients who ski or snowboard beyond their ability.

Above all else, most of our surgeries are the result of one party or another being “out of control”. Anecdotally, after speaking to thousands of recently injured patients, the most common descriptions of an accident is one of the following:

  • I got out of control and crashed

  • Someone else got out of control and ran into the back of me or over me

  • I hit a patch of ice or unexpected terrain

  • I overshot or “knuckled” (undershot) the jump

  • My arm/leg hit the rail in the terrain park

The old adage of “staying in control” cannot be overstated. By design, skiing and snowboarding is fairly ballistic - think about what your body is doing through space. If your energy can get dispersed, for example sliding to a stop, then your body usually isn’t forced to “absorb” it. But fixed objects, collisions and sudden forceful decelerations are the common denominators that understandably cause significant injury.

You would never consider jumping out of a moving vehicle at 30 mph into a wooded forest. Flying fast through the woods on skis or a snowboard is analogous.  Those are some of the most dramatic injures that we see on the slopes. Use common sense and extra caution in the woods.

3. Experience Matters

Preventing injuries varies on your experience. Beginners, especially snowboarders, have to pad up. The “whiplash” of a beginner snowboard injury is fast and unpredictable, with common head injuries as you fall back. Wearing a helmet and wrist guards will keep you out of the hospital.