Avoiding Orthopedic Injury During Winter Play


Texans don’t really catch “fresh powder” at home, but we somehow maintain a hearty love of snow and ski slopes. And whether we choose a weekend in New Mexico or a grander getaway to Colorado resorts, Texans are always seeking exciting winter escapades.

But before you head up a mountain—and certainly before you glide back down—prep yourself to stay safe and avoid all-too-common orthopedic skiing and snowboarding injuries.

Common Orthopedic Offenses In Skiing

Arguably the single most common type of injury associated with skiing or snowboarding is a sprain or tear in the knee, in particular the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Ascending the slopes, working your way back down, and attempting to correct a fall all present opportunities to injure the knee.

Other common injuries are unsurprisingly associated with falling and tend to affect the hands and wrists or shoulder. You know the scene, even if you don’t snowboard or ski: the fall is approaching, it’s happening in slow motion, and so you extend your arms to catch yourself. This scene almost never concludes with you unscathed.

Keep Yourself Unscathed On the Slopes

So how do you stay safe while taking full advantage of snow sports? Here are three pro tips to keep you in one piece.

  1. Conditioning: Athletes don’t just train to perform well; they train to remain uninjured. The same applies for regular Joes hitting the slopes; snowboarding and skiing are athletic endeavors and the appropriate physical preparation will do a lot for your safety. Maintain your cardio power and muscular strength throughout the year, and then be sure to warm up immediately before your activity.
  2. Equipment: This may seem like a no-brainer, but too many accidents can be blamed on ill-fitting boots, worn bindings (this device keeps your ski attached to your boot) and ski poles that are the wrong length for the skier’s height. Whether you own your gear or are renting it from a ski facility, check it before every outing and don’t rely on anything that isn’t up to par.
  3. Weather & Environment: You traveled all this way, have only two days to hit the slopes, and that’s when an icy storm blows through. It’s disappointing. But high winds, low visibility, wet snow and ice, or a sudden drop in temperature can all spell disaster when you’re zipping down a steep hill. So mind the weather and know what conditions you face on the slopes.

Make It Memorable, Keep It Safe

An epic winter adventure shouldn’t be remembered for the injury that brought it crashing to a halt. So do yourself a favor and take the proper steps to ensure your own safety, and possibly that of others. And if you find yourself nursing an orthopedic tweak or injury, contact Methodist Hospital for Surgery’s renowned orthopedic team.

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