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by Lauren Philippi   MScPT
Registered Physiotherapist
updated Jan 22, 2024

Winter is finally here! Skiing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some good exercise throughout the cold season. This is an exciting time for winter enthusiasts however, whether you are a pro skier or new to the sport, it is normal to be concerned about the risk of injury when going fast down an icy slope. An understanding of typical injuries in skiing and what you can do to be as safe as possible can help to mitigate the risks.  

The highest percentage of injuries in skiing, ranging from 43% to 77%, occur to the lower extremity with sprains to the knee involving the ACL and/or MCL as the most common (1). Next at 14%, are injuries to the upper extremity which mainly involve the thumb and shoulder (1). Finally, head and neck injuries account for the lowest majority according to a 2019 study at 13% (1). Most skiing related injuries tend to be due to falls, however they can also be related to overuse and fatigue.

A few quick tips to know preventative measures that you can take to reduce falls and risk of injury in case of a crash can allow for you to better enjoy your time out on the slopes.


1. Dry Land Training

The first thing that you can do to prevent skiing injuries actually takes place off the hill. Skiing requires lower extremity strength, endurance and power as well as upper body and core control. A good program to continuously build this fitness throughout the season can help you to stay balanced on your skis, prevent fatigue and improve performance when carving turns. 

Click here for a plan to get you started.


2. Proper Equipment

It is crucial to have skis with bindings that are properly set for your height, weight and skill level. If you just bought new skis or are renting a pair, make sure you get them set properly before you go out on snow. This also includes having correctly fitting boots, as control of your foot and ankle in the boot is key to getting on your skis on their edges.

Proper binding adjustments allow for your skis to come off easily in case of a fall, which can save you from a knee injury. Additionally, wearing a helmet that fits well is a must in order to prevent a head injury or concussion.

In order to be comfortable when exercising outside in the winter it is also important to dress in layers and according to the weather. A base layer to wick away sweat plus additional layers which you can take on and off based on the conditions will ensure you can stay at the right temperature. 


3. Warm Up

A quick warm up at the base of the hill can include a set of squats to prepare your body for activity. This will improve blood flow to muscles as well as your mobility and body temperature to ensure you are ready to go.

For all skiers, including higher level pros, a few warm up runs on easier trails should always be the start to your day. This will increase blood flow to working muscles and get you adapted to the weather and snow conditions before hitting the harder runs. Trail conditions can be quite different each day so it is always a good idea to get a feel for the snow before going straight to the double black diamonds. 


4. Take Breaks

Skiing for a full day is tiring! Fatigue may lead to less focus on the snow, incorrect form and inattention to other skiers around you. These times are when accidents are more likely to happen. Getting cold and feeling tired legs are cues from your body to go inside, take a break and come back out when you’re feeling fresh.


5. Learn The Skills

Whether you’re a beginner or it has just been a while since your last time skiing, learning a few tips and remembering what you’re supposed to do on different terrain can increase your confidence. Knowing the basics to stay forward on your skis, keep your hands up and look down the hill can help to control your speed. If you are feeling unsure, reach out to a ski instructor for a lesson specific to your skill level.


6. Nutrition and Hydration

When skiing, although you are in the cold and maybe not sweating as much, remember that you are still exercising for a full day. Make sure that you eat and drink water throughout the day so you can recover well and get back out there for another day. 


Accidents can still happen even when you are doing everything right. If you do have a fall, call the ski patrol and get help. If things are still not feeling quite right, a physiotherapist at Cornerstone Physiotherapy can help you to build a progressive return to sport plan to get you going fast on skis again and prevent risk of any future injuries. 



  1. Davey, A., Endres, N., Johnson, R. & Shealy, J. (2019). Alpine Skiing Injuries. Sports Health, 11(1), 18-26. doi: 10.1177/1941738118813051
About the author

Lauren Philippi

Physiotherapist Learn More about Lauren Philippi

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