Winter is coming! For many of us that means we get to enjoy some fun, sun, and fresh air on Maine’s great ski hills (Saddleback? Fingers crossed!), but for orthopaedic surgeons it also means taking care of a lot of folks who get injured on the slopes. Dr. Jamie Kuhn has some tips to help you avoid becoming one of our patients.
Make sure your equipment is up to the task! Your boots should fit properly, and not be too tight or narrow, and your skis and snowboard should be appropriately sized for your size and ability. Your skis and snowboard should be tuned including edges (I hear there may be ice this year!) at least once a year, and very importantly your ski bindings should be properly adjusted, which will reduce the risk of leg injuries. For snowboarders wrist braces can protect against the common injury of a broken or sprained wrist, and for skiers and snowboarders wearing a helmet reduces the risk and severity of head injury.
Obey the rules of the road! The rules posted on just about every chairlift tower are complete common sense: ski or ride under control, downhill skiers have the right of way, stop in a spot where you are visible, use devices to prevent runaway skis, stay on marked slopes, and if you don’t know how to use the lift, ask for help. Also, don’t go out if the conditions are prohibitively dangerous in terms of temperature, snow conditions, or visibility.
As with any sport, being in shape will make your experience more enjoyable and safer. Skiing and snowboarding are draining activities, and cold air will sap your energy quickly, so aerobic conditioning with running or biking will help you from getting exhausted, and that will reduce injury. Core strength and balance training will reduce your risk of falling, and if you go down will help you control that fall better, so a core strengthening regimen can be very helpful. Leg strengthening and conditioning, especially of the quadriceps in skiers (reduce the early season burn!) as well as specific exercises are felt to reduce the risk of ACL injuries. You can get in shape on your own or get help from the trainer at your local gym or a fitness expert, Of which there are many to choose from.
We hope you never need to use us, but if you get hurt on the slopes, our orthopaedic team is here to keep you out there.Let’s hope it falls soft and deep this season, and go get some pow!