Great experiences can be had up on the ski hill. Yet, for too many people, the thrills end in spills and the dream day on the slopes is marred by a knee injury.
Knee injuries are common in skiers and snowboarders because the knee is highly vulnerable due to the very nature of how our legs are attached to the skis or boards. The foot and ankle is locked in the ski/board. So if there is a fall and the ski bindings do not release, as they should, it is the knee joint that suffers as a result. Likewise on a snowboard, the bindings do not release and therefore as you tumble down a slope your body is at the mercy to how you and your board fall as a unit.
A vast majority of injuries on the slopes involve knee injuries.
Most injuries will heal with the help of knee support/braces and physiotherapy treatment. The very worst scenario is a injury that will require surgery. The three most common ski/boarding injuries are meniscus tears, tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and tears to the medial collateral ligament (MCL). There are varying degrees of injury to these structures from sprains to complete tears. If this should happen, a knee brace can be of great benefit to help alleviate further sports injury. Custom braces can be used to support an already injured knee to allow you to continue your ski season, but they can also be used to prevent injury, much like a helmet can help prevent concussions.
A strong core along with strong quadriceps and hamstrings are also good ways to help protect your knees too. Prior to a full day of skiing or boarding it is important to get a good warm-up at the start of your day. This can be as easy as a green or blue run where you do a lot of turns to get the blood pumping in your legs. Also take the time to stretch the long muscles in your legs, hips as well as your back.
A very simple but effective common sense tip is to always avoid skiing or boarding when you are tired as evidence shows accidents are much more common at the end of the day. So wise up and keep your knees safe on the slopes this year!