Ski­ing hype in China: How to avoid in­juries

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - VISTA - By Thomas Nau Pro­fes­sor Thomas Nau is a Con­sul­tant Or­thopaedic Sur­geon and Sports Medicine Spe­cial­ist at Bei­jing United Fam­ily Hos­pi­tal. He has more than 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in treat­ing ski­ing and win­ter sport in­juries.

Alpine ski­ing is gain­ing enor­mous pop­u­lar­ity in China, and the present re­ported num­ber of 1.2 mil­lion skiers will fur­ther in­crease with the Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics in 2022 com­ing around the cor­ner. Ski­ing is a fan­tas­tic sport and a great way to en­joy the out­doors. How­ever, with the grow­ing num­ber of skiers and the al­ways chang­ing styles and equip­ment, the tech­ni­cal and phys­i­cal de­mand is con­stantly grow­ing as well. This has re­sulted in a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease of win­ter sports re­lated in­juries at ski re­sorts around the world.

The over­all risk of sus­tain­ing an in­jury dur­ing ski­ing or snow­board­ing can def­i­nitely be re­duced with a tar­geted fit­ness pro­gram. Mus­cles are im­por­tant to pro­tect joints and lig­a­ments and need to be prop­erly pre­pared to min­i­mize the risk of in­jury.

Get your body ready

Re­gard­less of your fit­ness level, you should start at least six weeks in ad­vance to pre­pare your body for ski­ing. You can do that by join­ing spe­cial fit­ness classes at your gym, hire a per­sonal trainer, or ex­er­cise by your­self. I rec­om­mend work­ing on your en­durance, strength and co­or­di­na­tion at least twice a week.

One ex­am­ple of a sug­gested work­out:

Warm up, in­clud­ing sta­bi­liz­ing and co­or­di­na­tive ex­er­cises En­durance part, run­ning or cy­cling Strength­en­ing part Stretch­ing and cool down Carv­ing ski and snow­board

The newer gen­er­a­tion of carv­ing skis and snow­boards re­quires more tech­ni­cal skills for win­ter sports en­thu­si­asts. I have seen that very of­ten be­gin­ners who use this modern and quite ag­gres­sive ski­ing equip­ment sus­tained se­vere and dev­as­tat­ing in­juries which could have been eas­ily pre­vented. There­fore, I ad­vise peo­ple to get some pro­fes­sional in­struc­tion, es­pe­cially if you are not used to ad­vanced equip­ment. Even one day of carv­ing-in­struc­tion may help to re­duce the risk of in­jury and make the ex­pe­ri­ence more en­joy­able. The same ap­plies to be­gin­ner snow­board­ers. A be­gin­ner’s course al­ways pays off. With­out some of the sim­ple ba­sic skills, you may end up fall­ing down all the time, frus­trated and want to quit these ac­tiv­i­ties be­fore you even get started.

Be­fore go­ing down­hill

A proper warm-up def­i­nitely re­duces the num­ber of in­juries. This can be done on the way up or on top of the moun­tain. A 10 minute sim­ple warm-up, in­clud­ing range of mo­tion and flex­i­bil­ity ex­er­cises seems ap­pro­pri­ate. Start­ing “cold” ex­poses your mus­cles and joints to un­nec­es­sary risks. In my prac­tice, I have treated hun­dreds of pa­tients whose ski­ing day only lasted about 10 min­utes or even less, and with the ma­jor­ity of pa­tients a sim­ple fall or a wrong turn re­sulted in oth­er­wise easy to avoid in­juries. If you watch a ski race on tele­vi­sion, you can see how se­ri­ous pro­fes­sional ath­letes take their warm-up. The first down­hill of the day should al­ways be an easy one to get used to the slopes and the type of snow. For ex­am­ple, a soggy type of snow on warmer days acts en­tirely dif­fer­ent com­pared to a dry pow­der type of snow on colder days. Once you feel com­fort­able, you can in­crease the dif­fi­culty level of the slopes you are ski­ing.

Ad­di­tional tips from the ex­pert

Wrong equip­ment sig­nif­i­cantly in­creases the risk of ac­ci­dents. Con­se­quently, you may not only suf­fer from se­vere in­juries, but you also will not be able to en­joy this fan­tas­tic sport. Your body mass and height are not the only de­cid­ing fac­tors for the right choice of equip­ment as this de­ci­sion is purely made by your ski­ing skill level. In ad­di­tion, it is im­por­tant to get your skies and bind­ings reg­u­larly checked be­fore hit­ting the slopes.

Photo: Cour­tesy of Bei­jing United Fam­ily Hos­pi­tal

Pro­fes­sor Thomas Nau

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