Skiing and snowboarding does have a reputation of being a risky sport, but the overall injury rate for skiers is a little lower than you may expect with 3 injuries per 1000 skier days (1)(2). Put another way, if you ski 20 days a year, on average you’ll sustain an injury every 16-17 years. Snowboarders have a higher injury risk with a reported 4-16 injuries per 1000 snowboarder days (3).
There have been a number of studies that have looked at the incidence and severity of ski and snowboarding injuries, and in general skiers tend to sustain more knee injuries whereas snowboarders are more vulnerable to injuries of the upper limb. The most recent paper to look into this was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Surgery this year (4), and the authors retrospectively analyzed all the injuries sustained at the Levi Ski Resort in Finland over a 6-year period (2006-2012). This study reported a slightly lower rate to previous statistics with an overall injury rate of 1.97 per 1000 skier days. Maybe the Finish ski and ride a little more safely, are more experienced, or maybe improvements in equipment technology (bindings, wrist guards etc) and resort safety measures (slow signs, safety netting etc) are having an impact.
A breakdown of the statistics is interesting, with skiers injuring themselves mainly on-piste (72%), to a lesser extent terrain parks (19%), whilst on a ski lift (6%), and skiing off-piste (3%). Snowboarders had a similar spread but with a higher incidence of terrain park injuries (25%), and less whilst on ski lifts (3%).
Anatomical locations of injuries were similar to previous studies with the bulk of injuries to skiers being to the lower extremity (42%), most of which were the knee. Injuries were also noted for the upper extremity (34%), head (15%), and spinal column (6%). Respective figures for the snowboarders were lower extremity 17%, upper extremity 59%, head 12%, and spinal column 9%. Sixty one percent of the upper extremity injuries to snowboarders were to the wrist, hand or thumb.
Most injuries (about 75%) for both skiers and snowboarders occur either by falling down or loss of control during a jump, with only between 3%-8% occurring by collision with other skiers or riders. This statistic I feel is the most important as it highlights the fact the skiers or riders themselves’ are at fault. Poor fitness, poor selection of terrain or conditions, poor judgement of one’s ability, or poor maintenance of equipment would be factors in many injuries I’m sure. The take home message is that many skiing and snowboarding injuries are preventable.
Two-time Winter Olympian Katya Crema discusses our Weather Protection Facial Cream - a breathable, long lasting cream that will protect your skin from the wind and cold whilst skiing and snowboarding in the mountains. Click here to learn more about this amazing product.
Muscle cramps occur for a variety of reasons – and when they do, they are not pleasant. An exercise-induced muscle cramp is when one, or a group of, muscles suddenly and involuntarily contract. This can happen both during and after exercise. There are many theories why cramps occur, including dehy...
I’ve been fortunate to have travelled all over the world in my role as a sports physio with elite sporting teams, but also with my business. The cliché is that it’s more about the journey than the destination, but when you’re travelling to participate in a sporting event the travel bit isn’...
Get the very latest premium content and member-only special offers from Premax.
Only one (awesome) email a week - we promise!