Saddleworth Physiotherapy: How to stay safe on the slopes

SPC_LOGO_FINAL[1] smallerSaddleworth Physiotherapy Clinic looks at how to prepare to stay safe on the slopes.

For more information, find the clinic at 18 High Street, Uppermill, call them on 01457 871777 or visit:

WINTER IS just around the corner and I am sure some of you will already be considering a skiing or snowboarding holiday.

However most skiers hit the slopes with no preparation or by exercising in the wrong way. Wall squats and cycling will not get you fit for skiing as they are not sports specific.

Pain at the front of the knee is common in skiers and is often caused by faulty alignment of the knee over the foot or the hip over the knee.

The quadriceps (front of the thigh) and the gluteal (buttock) muscles are the most powerful muscles used when skiing. If one or both knees drop too far inwards when standing or squatting there is a resultant imbalance of forces going through the knee, causing pain swelling and inflammation.

Misalignment at the knee also means you won’t be able to carve properly on the slopes; the uphill ski will not hold an edge leading to problems with the patella femoral (knee cap) joint.

There is no sport that relies on external rotation of the hip as much as skiing. If the gluteal muscles are weak the knee falls inwards, causing further overload on the patella.

The quadriceps work in two ways. They help to straighten the knee when working concentrically and also control it from a straight position to a bent position when working eccentrically. This is vital in any preparation exercise routine.

Cycling works the hamstrings but does not use the quads eccentrically. Doing step downs is a good way to work the muscles eccentrically but it is vital to do this with good alignment. Once the strength and fitness is improved exercise should be progressed to explosive work including jumping and changes of direction.

Low back pain during a skiing holiday is related to the position of the pelvis in relation to the spine. Men often tuck the pelvis under too much while women often stick their bottom out. Both of these cause strain on the spine. Strengthening exercises for the legs should be done with the pelvis in a neutral position.

Proprioception is the body’s positional sense and is vital for injury prevention. Once our visual input is reduced we are more reliant on good proprioception and balance. Your weight should be balanced over the centre of your skis. Most people sit down too much, putting excessive strain through the quads muscles and knees and taking the weight into the back of the skis, causing loss of control.

Fatigue plays a major role in not only performance, but in causing injury. Achieving higher levels of fitness is an obvious way to enhance your skiing performance and also reduce risk of injury.

If you need any advice, help with training or are carrying any niggling injuries now is the perfect time to be seeking physiotherapy help.


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