Enquire Now 020 3051 1111

What are the most common injuries from skiing?

Injuries from skiing are varied and can come from repetitive movements, sudden twisting, accidents, falls, collisions, poor support or improper technique. While the most common injuries involve the knee, other areas throughout the body and also experience pain and injury. If you are heading on a ski holiday soon, below are some common injuries to know about and look out for.

Back injuries

Backache is common in skiers and non-skiers alike, but the bent posture and twisting movements on the slopes can cause aching, pain and stiffness which can get worse over time. Falls, uneven terrain and self-correction can jar the spine or put pressure on the soft tissues around the neck and backbone. After an intense day on the slopes, you can ice the painful or stiff areas and take paracetamol for pain relief.

Hand injuries

One common and often repetitive injury known as ‘skier’s thumb’, is a result of over stretching the ligaments that support the base of the thumb. Immediate injury is possible if a skier falls while holding their ski pole as the outstretched hand hits the ground. Although common, skier’s thumb can be very painful and can cause swelling and difficulty with everyday movements of the thumb. Ice therapy as well as strapping and support bandages can help prevent additional damage and promote recovery.

Knee injuries

About a third of all skiing injuries involve the knee, with the most common involving the medial collateral ligament (MCL). The MCL is a key ligament for forward motion and prevents the knee from caving inwards. It runs from the top of the shin bone (tibia) to the bottom of the femur bone. This ligament can be torn when too much force is placed on the front or side of the knee, which can happen on impact with the ground or another skier. MCL sprains are also common in more novice skiers taking the snowplough position to stop or slow down, which puts repeated pressure on the back of the knee and thus the MCL.

Another common knee injury involves the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL assists with rotation of the knee and is important for side to side movements. The ACL can be damaged as the result of a fall or when tripping over while standing with skis crossed, as the foot remains facing forward as the body twists sideways. The stance of bent knees can also put pressure on the legs, leading to pain in front of and underneath the kneecap, known as Patello-Femoral Syndrome (PFS).

If you are concerned about an ACL injury, look into ski boots with a rear release or multi-mode release bindings, as they can help reduce the risk of injury. If you are a seasoned skier, make sure your bindings are adjusted and checked annually, and don’t forget to self-test bindings on a daily basis. If possible, avoid too much walking in your ski boots as the movement can affect the release mechanism and binding.

Shoulder and collarbone injuries

When you are about to fall, it’s a natural reaction to put your arms out in an effort to break your fall. However instead of this preventing damage it can often result in sprains, fractures and dislocations around the shoulder. Fractures often involve the shoulder blade (scapula) and upper arm. The socket of the shoulder joint (the glenoid) is surrounded by cartilage (labrum tissue). A tear to this cartilage can cause pain when stretching the arm, hinder control over movement or limit movability of the shoulder joint.

In addition to damage to the shoulder, the collar bone can suffer trauma from impact, such as if a skier falls or collides with another person on the slopes. A broken collarbone can be a serious injury, so it’s important to seek immediate medical attention and to immobilise the arm as soon as possible to prevent further injury.

Injury prevention

It is often recommended to strengthen the hips, legs and knees with exercise prior to heading off to the slopes. There are plenty of exercises you can do to strengthen your legs and hips – without a gym – such as squats, walking lunges, dead lifts and glute bridges. It is also recommended to do some cardio activity such as jogging, cycling, or swimming to help with lung capacity and overall fitness. Building up your strength and fitness over several weeks is recommended, so you develop a good base level of fitness prior to your trip.

Treatment for ski injuries

While some minor ski injuries can heal over time with rest, anti-inflammatory treatment and physiotherapy, it is advised to get any concerning injury checked out by a professional.

At Total Orthopaedics, we have an experienced team of consultant specialists that can diagnose and treat musculoskeletal injuries from head to toe. Our surgeons take a holistic approach to your treatment, exploring non-surgical options at the first instance. We have appointments available six days a week at several London locations – many with onsite scanning facilities. All major insurers are accepted, and we also offer competitively priced self-pay packages.

For more information or to book an appointment, please contact us.

Mr Bob Chatterjee

Mr Chatterjee is a Consultant Spinal Surgeon who practises at The Harley Street London Clinic and the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in North London. As the Director of Harley Street Spine and a founder member of Total Orthopaedics, he is known globally as a specialist who takes a holistic approach, ensuring his patients are not only aware of their back health but understand all of their treatment options.

Feel Assured

Over 350

5 Star Reviews


Covid Cases

Over 120,000

Patients Treated

Total Orthopaedics are committed to holistic and patient-focused care.

Book Consultation