Skiing hype in China: How to avoid 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.
Professor Thomas Nau