Ask The Expert: Downhill Skiing

Question:  How can I prepare for a safe ski season?

Answer:  Skiing injuries are common in the hands, shoulders, and knees. In the hands, the thumbs are most easily injured.  Additionally, thumbs, wrists and shoulders are susceptible to injury due to ski poles and catching yourself when falling.

Knee injuries are also very common because of the rigid support at the ankle in the ski boot.  While the ankle is well protected inside a boot, the knees are the next likely victim.  Most ligament injuries and fractures occur due to the twisting movement on the knee and leg.  Most knee injuries in skiing occur because of fatigue, lack of familiarity of the terrain, lack of skill, poor physical fitness, and the obstacle of other skiers.

Enjoy your ski season, but be prepared! Before you book your trip, set up a plan to prepare your body. Most skiers work nine to five jobs and are sedentary during the week.  They live like weekend warriors – hitting the slopes on the weekends and vacation getaways.

Prepare for ski season.

Do you want to ski better and avoid injuries?  Try incorporating the four basic components for downhill fitness into your training. A well-rounded program includes a variety of strength, balance, and flexibility exercises incorporated with an aerobic-anaerobic training.

  • Do cardiovascular workouts – rollerblading, tennis, and soccer are great for the added lateral movement benefits
  • Increase your flexibility – especially your hips, thighs, groin, and low back
  • Strength train – focus on your quadriceps to protect your knees, and get stronger in your hamstrings, shoulders, abdomen, and low back too
  • Add balance and agility exercises – try tuck jumps and lateral box jumps


Stay safe while skiing.

  • Always stay in control
  • Skiers ahead of you have the right of way
  • Stop in a safe place for you and others
  • Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield
  • Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment
  • Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails
  • Know how to use the lifts safely


If you have questions, call one of our many physical therapists who will help you stay safe on the slopes!