While the festive season may be over the mountains of Europe are still very much alive with the sound of people enjoying themselves.
Ski season is well and truly underway with thousands flocking to the continent’s premier resorts to tackle the slopes while on a break from the office.
The sport is not for the faint-hearted of course.
For those who take their skiing a little more seriously (the “need for speed” brigade) there is always the chance of a collision, either with another person or an obstacle such as a tree on a steep downhill. A fall from a height can also scupper a skiing adventure quickly.
Most skiers tend to become a bit carefree after a few days on the mountains, but they should know their limits, slow down when needed and look out for other people. Importantly, drinking alcohol while skiing can be a slippery slope in more ways than one.
Among the most common skiing injuries are those stemming from whiplash, which Ultra Sports Clinic Senior Physiotherapist Vanessa Robitaille attributes to the nature of the sport.
“Falls while going downhill at varying speeds can cause a potential whiplash, especially when the head hits the ground directly,” Vanessa says.
Whiplash results in an injury to the neck that is usually caused by high velocity forces pushing the neck into flexion and extension.
According to Vanessa, the average recovery time varies for each person but generally six- to 12 weeks are required if there are no other conditions involved such as concussion or shoulder injuries.
The main goal of rehabilitation is to bring balance back to the neck musculature.
“During a whiplash injury your neck can go into ‘protection’ mode that results in muscle spasms and muscle relaxations to protect the spine. This means that manual therapy, stretches and strengthening as well as management techniques are necessary to help get through day-to-day activities."
“This could include modifications of your gym routine, work set-up and pillows to help get you through your rehab and daily life as seamlessly as possible.”
It is vitally important that skiers take the necessary precautions in the event of suffering a whiplash injury, Vanessa adds.
“You should avoid drinking alcohol or taking anti-inflammatories as whiplash injuries are often paired with concussions. You also need to look out for any symptoms that seem abnormal, such as visual, emotional or cognitive issues. You should go to a hospital if needed."
“If the main issue is neck pain and tightness, put some heat on the affected area to help reduce muscle tension and see a physiotherapist as soon as you can to get started on the treatment.”