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  • Writer's pictureUltra Sports

Skiing Knee Injuries - Why they happen and how to avoid them?

Skiing has a history dating back thousands of years. Wall paintings dating back 10,000 years found in Xinjiang region (now China) are the earliest known recordings of the activity. Moreover, archaeological examples of skis have been found in Russia dating back to 6,000 BCE. While there have been significant improvements in equipment during this time, injuries have remained prevalent.

According to survey, 63% of people have been injured or know someone who has been injured on the slopes.

Who injured what? Check out the infographic below to see the types of injuries that affect snowboarders and skiers. As you can see, knee injuries in skiers are the most prevalent injury making up 33.4% of all skiing injuries.

So why are knee injuries so common in skiers? Well there are a number of contributing factors. For starters, anatomically humans have strong and deep hip sockets that are very stable. Ski boots are clipped into skis meaning the ankles are firmly fixed. So with the hip and ankle being so firmly supported, the knees are often left vulnerable.

Common skiing knee injuries we see include:

  • Bone fracture

  • Femur

  • Tibia (especially tibial plateau)

  • Patella

  • Soft tissue injury

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) / Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)

  • Meniscus

  • Muscle strains

Bone Fracture:

These can happen a number of way - such as a collision with other skiers, landing awkwardly from a jump or simply falling over. Fractures of the tibial plateau are particularly common due to the high speed nature of skiing. An individual will present with severe pain and an inability to weight bear, in which case immediate medical evaluation is necessary. Tibial plateau injuries can also be accompanied by injuries to the meniscus and/or ACL.

Soft Tissue Injury:

Most skiing related ACL injuries result from internal rotation of the tibia with the knee flexed greater than 90’. This is a position that happens when a skier falls backwards or lands awkwardly. Immediate swelling, severe pain and difficulty walking (a feeling of “giving way”) are common symptoms experienced in ACL injuries.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injuries happen from a valgus force to a partially bent knee. This can happen with another skier colliding into the outside part of the knee or landing in a way that causes the knee to collapse inwards. Injuries to the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) are less common and occur with a force in the opposite direction (varus force). Immediate swelling, pain and tenderness in the inner (for MCL) and outer (for LCL) parts of the knee are common symptoms experienced in injuries to the collateral ligaments.

Meniscus injuries typically occur when a bent knee is met with shearing forces combined with compression and femoral rotation. This can happen when turning, twisting, slipping or landing when skiing. Swelling, difficulty weight bearing, locking” of the knee joint are common symptoms experienced in meniscus injuries.

Muscle strains are typically less severe than the aforementioned injuries. You can read a previous blogpost about Strains vs Sprains here

But it’s not all doom and gloom. While some injuries are inevitable, you can still decrease your risk of injury through targeted neuromuscular rehab. At Ultra Sports Clinic, we have an experienced Strength & Conditioning staff that are can tailor a program for you that will help prevent injury. This may consist of hip, knee, ankle and core stability exercise that incorporates strength, endurance and proprioception.

Have an upcoming ski trip that you want to prepare for? Look at our Ski Conditioning package here for pricing -

On the left we have Damian showing you how to work on single leg balance on a dura disc in Ultra Sports Clinic's state of the art gym.

The above has Damian showing you how to do a Single leg squat on a BOSU ball: Building strength and control through hip/knee/ankle/core.

Core stability plays a big role in injury prevention

If you’re unlucky enough to sustain an injury on the ski slopes this season, don’t wait around hoping you get better. Ultra Sports Clinic has a Consultant Radiologist who can Ultrasound you here in the clinic without need for referral. Moreover, our team of Physiotherapists and Chiropractors are skilled in diagnosing and treating skiing injuries.

The ‘highest risk’ skier is a beginner, on rented equipment, with no lessons, without a helmet or wrist guards, skiing above their ability level on a surface with limited grooming with limited rest of hydration” - Dr Bill Sterett

Book now to see one of our practioners.



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