With the snow season commencing the excitement can be as intense as the chill; but there should be some things to take into consideration before strapping on our boots and hitting the slopes. Snow sports have a high risk for serious injuries. Although most injuries are caused from unexpected and uncontrollable factors such as weather conditions, falls and collisions; these can be minimised with good preparation and safety practices.
Falls and collisions on the mountain can be traumatic and could be caused by many factors;
- Lack of instruction
- Using slopes unsuitable for skill level
- Faulty or ill-fitting equipment
- Altitude sickness
- Being off pieste
- Back country without knowledge and/or experience
- Failure to observe warning/ safety signs
Here are the National Ski Areas Association Responsibility Code for Reducing Risk
- Always stay in control
- People 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
- Wear a helmet- it can save your life!
- Good quality goggles; essential for seeing the contouring of the ground especially in low light conditions
Recommended for beginners and those who spend significant time on the mountain
- Knee pads
- Elbow pads
- Wrist guards
Vital tip! Make sure your equipment is serviced and personally fitted to your experience level, weight and height. This ensures the safety features will work as they are designed to.
Stay within your skill level .
Familiarise yourself with which colour slopes match with which difficulty to avoid being in a slope that is too difficult.
Before considering going off pieste ask yourself; do I have the knowledge and experience? Are the conditions safe? Am I sure where the section will end up? Do I have the knowledge and gear in case of an avalanche?
If the weather changes suddenly make sure to; keep close to the slope markers and look out for warning signs and abide by them.
Most importantly make sure you feel confident to stop and/or change direction safely and quickly in case of an emergency.
Parents supervise your children ensuring they are hydrated and fed, skiing appropriate slopes for their skill level and that they are abiding by the ski code.
AVOID DRINKING ALCOHOL- this can cause loss of judgement/ balance and control which could lead to injuries to yourself and/or others.
How physiotherapy can help?
To enjoy the ski season to its full potential prevention of injuries is more effective than treatment. The stronger, fitter and more flexible you are, the less likely you are to injure yourself in an accident and this is how physiotherapy can help! Physiotherapy can provide you with an individualised exercise program to increase your body’s capacity to cope with the physical demands of snow sports. The program can be tailored to your personal weaknesses /tightness whilst also taking into account any previous and/or current injuries; chronic or acute. We can take you through the appropriate warm up and cool down techniques / exercises/stretches targeting your individual needs. Furthermore we can give pointers on your technique designed for injury management and prevention. By addressing these factors we can help improve your performance on the slopes and reduce your risk of injuries.
Enjoy your time on the slopes !