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Seminar on Conditioning for Ski Season presented by ONS Foundation
Posted On: Saturday, December 03, 2011

Many skiing injuries can be avoided say orthopedic experts

At the start of each ski season, hoards of skiers and snowboarders head to the slopes but most do little to prepare their bodies ahead of time. “The sooner you start a conditioning program, the better,” says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Hindman of the ONS Foundation. “Don’t wait for the snow to start falling to start preparing your body.”  As incentive, the ONS Foundation is holding its annual free Ski Conditioning and Injury Prevention Seminar on Tuesday, December 13 at 7 p.m. at ONS, 6 Greenwich Office Park at 10 Valley Drive.  Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Hindman and sports medicine specialist Dr. Tim Greene will discuss the causes of many skiing injuries and how they may be avoided. The seminar will offer advice on safe skiing, and information on the latest treatments for skiing injuries such as a ruptured ACL. Chalon Lefebvre, PT of ONS Physical Therapy will demonstrate ski conditioning and strengthening exercises that should be part of every skier’s conditioning program.  Refreshments will be served. Registration is requested. Call 203-869-3131 or email contact@ons-foundation.org.  

According to Dr. Hindman, even experienced athletes are vulnerable to injury if they under-prepare for the rigors of winter sports activity. Physical conditioning can make an important difference to avoid serious strains to joints and muscles. “Most people ride up the ski lift without even a single stretch,” says Hindman. “Skiing uses muscles groups that are used very little the rest of the year. Strengthening and conditioning for skiing should really begin two to three months before the first trip up the mountain, but it’s never too late to benefit from a program. The ONS Foundation program is a good place to start.  If you don’t prepare, your risk for injury increases.”   

According to Dr. Hindman, the most feared injury by skiers is a torn ACL, (anterior cruciate ligament). One of four ligaments in the knee, the ACL can tear when a skier tries to recover from a fall in which his weight drops backward over the ski tails, triggering the skis to shoot forward putting excessive stress on the ACL. The injury usually requires surgery and a lengthy recuperation.  Conditioning can play an important role in ACL injury prevention. Strengthening both the upper and lower leg muscles will help stabilize the knee during stress situations. 

Building muscular endurance and strength are the basics of ski conditioning. The major leg muscles work the hardest when skiing or snowboarding and need to be strong for good balance and to resist fatigue throughout the day.  Exercises should focus on strengthening hips, thighs, hamstrings and calves, while improving flexibility and stamina. Yoga and Pilates work well for developing strength, flexibility and balance for many people. 

“Fatigue is the most common cause of skiing and snowboarding accidents, says Dr. Hindman. “Most injuries happen after 2 p.m. due to a combination of muscle fatigue, flat light and deteriorating snow conditions. When you get tired, stop and go inside.” 

The ONS Foundation health and injury prevention seminars are presented by physicians and physical therapists throughout the year. For more information, visit www.ons-foundation.org.