Forbes ranked skiing and snowboarding ninth out of the top 10 most dangerous sports. It seems that cycling, playing football and running on treadmills carries a higher risk.


The word “ski” is one of a handful of words Norway has exported to the international community. It comes from the Old Norse word “skíð” which means “split piece of wood or firewood”.

Until the mid-19th century skiing was primarily used for transport, and since then has become a recreation and sport.

Snowboarding on the other hand was devised in the 60’s when a Michigan engineer tied two skies together and attached a rope so that he could control his daughter as she slid downhill. Less than forty years later snowboarding became an Olympic sport.

Injuries in snow sports are numerous with almost all body parts at risk. Knee injuries top the list with injuries to the head, shoulder and lower leg close behind.

Professor Jasper Shealy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York found that although snowboarders had a 60% higher risk of injury they were 30% less likely to be killed.

Below we have highlighted two of the more common injuries. 


Medial collateral ligament injury of the knee.

Knee injuries account for 30-40% of all ski injuries. Injury to the medial collateral  ligament is the most prevalent knee injury on the slopes.

imageBeginners are the most affected, with the snow plough position often the culprit. In the plough position the front of the skis are pointing forward and inward. This puts the knee in a valgus form where the lower leg is leaning outwards against the thigh in an exaggerated knock knee position. The wider the plough and the less experienced the skier the more likely they are to exaggerate this movement if losing control. The result is an over-stretching of the medial collateral ligament. Tears are graded from one to three with three being the only one requiring surgical intervention. Grade one and two tears will benefit from rest, ice, compression and support in the acute phase. Advice on rehabilitation through exercise and manual therapy from your osteopath would be recommended. 


Rotator cuff injuries of the shoulder

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. Unlike the hip it has a very shallow socket . This gives the shoulder a very generous range of movement, but for all it’s mobility the shoulder (glenohumeral joint) lacks stability. This lack of security in the joint is compensated by a comprehensive mix of ligaments and muscles that bind the shoulder in place.image

The rotator cuff consists of four of these muscles that arise from the shoulder blade (scapula) and attach to the upper arm (humerus). A fall onto the shoulder from skiing and in particular snowboarding will often result in a rotator cuff injury.

In a review of shoulder injuries in skiing and snowboarding by McCall and Safran et al (2009) they found that half of all snowboarding injuries involve the upper extremity. The shoulder accounted for about 4-11% of alpine skiing injuries and 8-16% of snowboarding. It is thought that most are minor and many go unreported.


Snow sport injuries are diverse in their nature often involve fractures and deep lacerations that require specialist medical intervention. If you come back from your winter holiday with aches and pains or minor sports injuries give us a ring at froc. We are bio-mechanical specialists, we understand how your body is put together, know how it should work and understand when it goes wrong.

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