Nov 5, 2023 - Things to Do

How to avoid injuries on the ski slopes

Illustration of a caution sign with a snowflake instead of a circle in the exclamation point.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The key to a fun winter is staying in one piece.

State of play: It doesn't matter how much it snows if you're injured and can't enjoy it.

  • The most common mishaps are knee and thumb ligament injuries for skiers and wrist fractures and shoulder dislocations for snowboarders, says Chad Vaccarelli, a Kaiser sports medicine physician and snowboarder.

What to know: To prepare for the season, we asked Vaccarelli — who logs at least 40 days on the slopes a year — for tips on staying healthy. The key is exercising before you hit the slopes. "The biggest thing is to avoid deconditioning, I think that's the No. 1 thing that predisposes us to injury," he says.

Do this: For injury prevention, he recommends three to six weeks of conditioning with exercising as much as five to six days a week.

  • For skiers, unweighted squats and lunges are a good place to start to strengthen stabilizing muscles in the legs.
  • For snowboarders, add heel raises on an elevated surface like a stair and standing on your heels and lifting toes off the ground to work your calf and lower legs.
  • For everyone, add core exercises like a plank for 15 seconds to a minute.

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