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Stay safe on the slippery slopes

CSP press release published on 10 February 2014

The elite athletes competing in the Winter Olympics could inspire hordes of new skiing and snowboarding fans to head for the slopes.

Or it could be that the brave endeavours of celebrities on the alpine TV show The Jump encouraged beginners to give winter sports a try.

Chartered physiotherapist Lucy McDonald, who has worked with Team GB skiers, gives her top tips to anyone heading for the snow this winter – or simply giving it a go on a dry slope in the UK.

“Anyone who skis or snowboards accepts there is an element of risk,” said Lucy.

“But there are simple steps everyone can take to reduce the chances of suffering an injury and ensure they get the most out of what should be an amazing experience.”

Lucy suggests:

Warm-up

Walk to the slopes and perform dynamic stretches – exercises where you replicate the movements you will be putting your body through. Try gentle squats, lunges and body rotations.

When you do hit the slopes, start on the easier runs to get your muscles warm and ready for the more vigorous challenges ahead.

Practice proprioception exercises throughout the day

Proprioception is basically your body’s ‘sense of self’. Even with eyes closed, we are aware of body position – where are arms and legs are, for example – and this is one of the biggest factors in preventing injuries.

Try to practice these exercises before you go, but even the morning before will help. Stand on one leg with your eyes closed and try to balance for as long as possible. If you need to, keep your hands hovering over a sturdy support.

Take the right kit

The terrible injuries suffered by F1 driver Michael Schumacher reinforce the need to wear a helmet on the slopes. Snowboarders should also wear wrist and coccyx guards.

Choose skis and boards that suit your standard and avoid cranking your binding settings too high. Also ensure you are wearing appropriate clothing for the conditions.

A simple, stretchy knee support can aid balance and also keep the joint warm if you have cartilage or arthritis issues.

Ski with correct form

A physiotherapist in your resort will not only diagnose and treat an injury, but will also advise you on how to improve the position of your knees, back and pelvis when you are skiing to take the strain off the joints.

Common mistakes are the knees ‘dropping in’ which can cause knee cap issues so check this yourself in front of the mirror and correct it accordingly.

The other common problem is skiing with your bottom ski out too much or tucked in – try slightly altering its position to see if it eases your back ache.

Finally don’t sit backwards too far – this puts excess strain on both the knees and the back.

Stay hydrated throughout and warm down

Stretching at the end of the day will help reduce any soreness the next morning. 

Do some gentle static stretches for your back, quads, glutes and any other muscles that feel tight.

For further information please call the CSP press office on 020 7306 1111, email pressoffice@csp.org.uk. Out of hours please call Becca Bryant, head of press and PR (job-share) on 079172 40819, Jennie Edmondson, head of press and PR (job share) on 07786 332197, or Jon Ryan, senior media adviser on 07917 091200.

**ENDS**

Notes to editors

  1. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the UK’s professional, educational and trade union body. We have more than 52,000 members, including chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers.

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