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Your Healthy Family: Avoid spring skiing injuries

Posted at 11:18 AM, Mar 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-20 10:41:14-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – With all the snow in the mountains and the news this week that more Colorado resorts will be staying open longer, we have some important safety reminders to help you try to avoid injury while you are out enjoying our beautiful state.

Spring is a great time to be on the slopes, however a few more weeks of skiing can also mean for more chances of getting injured, whether you’re a beginner or experienced skier.

Dr. Matthew Javernick, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist with UCHealth Memorial in Colorado Springs, says there is one common skiing injury he’s see’s the most.

“The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is the most common injury.  It’s the big ligament in your knee and prevents your lower leg (tibia) from shifting, relative to your (upper leg) femur.”

Dr. Javernick says ACL injuries happen very quickly, through two common mechanisms.  One is referred to as “phantom foot phenomenon” and the other is jumping.

Phantom foot involves the tail of the ski and the stiff boot top.  When you fall backwards these components together act like a “phantom foot”, levering the knee into a position of injury.  Together they twist and bend the knee in ways that put the ACL at risk of tearing.

To avoid tearing your ACL, Dr. Javernick says there are a few steps you can take.  “One, you always want to ski on terrain you’re comfortable with. Two, good body position is important – keep your hands and knees over your skis and keep your weight forward.  If you feel yourself start falling backwards, and slipping to your rear and you’re reaching back, it’s better to just pull your arms together and fall to the side. Keep your knees together, your hips your knees and ankles bent, and that can really help prevent an ACL injury.”

Finally, Dr. Javernick says have your equipment checked again.  “Have your skis set properly. Make sure your bindings and your boots fit appropriately.  If it’s been all season, it may be worth checking again, and have an experienced ski tech check those for you.”

So here’s to happy and safe spring skiing.  In our next story Dr. Javernick has a reminder for the more adventurous skiers who love to catch some air that can keep help them avoid serious injury.

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