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How to Avoid and ACL Injury This Ski Season


In the last blog post, we talked to you about the importance of the pre-season skiing workout. A proper workout will ensure that you are building strength in the many muscle groups required when skiing. If you missed that post, you can read Hit the Slopes in Tip-Top Shape: Preseason Ski Training Components.


Did you know that the MOST common injury among recreational skiers is a torn ACL? In fact, there are over 100,000 new tears of the ACL from skiing injuries each year in the United States. The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of two major ligaments in the knee joint that connect the tibia to the femur. It prevents the tibia from sliding forward on the femur and also helps in controlling rotation. The ACL is placed under heavy stress when the knee is either fully extended or fully flexed and torqued in any direction.


If you tear your ACL, you most likely will face reconstructive surgery and at least six months of rehabilitation. Most of the ACL injuries obtained during skiing occur in one of two ways:


  1. The skier, following a jump or change in terrain, is thrust forward and falls on the tail of his or her skis.

  2. The skier, knowing that he or she needs to stop, sits back and falls to ground. This puts the hips below the knees, quickly, resulting in injury.


Paspa Physical Therapy doesn’t want you to ruin your winter fun, so follow these steps when skiing to prevent an ACL tear.

  1. Pre season training is key.  You must be ready for the athleticism of skiing and need to strengthen at least 6-8 weeks before the start of the season.

  2. If possible, warm up your leg muscles on a stationary bike before heading out to the slopes.

  3. Stretch your calfs, quadriceps and hamstrings every morning and again after skiing.

  4. Keep your arms forward with your hands over your toes.

  5. Keep your hips above your knees by constantly “driving” forward through the boot.

  6. Never reach back with your hand in a fall.

  7. Do not fully straighten your legs when you fall.

  8. Once you have fallen to the ground, don’t try and get up until you’ve stopped.


If you look closely at the list above, you will realize that most of the ACL injuries happen during the fall. It is only natural to want to sit back and fall down to stop your forward momentum, especially when feel like you are going too fast and are out of control.


As you hit the slopes this winter, keep these tips in mind so you can enjoy a long and fun-filled skiing season!


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