26 April 2019

Expert advice: Stay injury free on the slopes

February 11, 2014

The elite athletes competing in the Winter Olympics could inspire hordes of new skiing and snowboarding fans to head for the slopes this year, whether it be on the snow or dry slope.

So we caught up with chartered physiotherapist Lucy McDonald, who has worked with Team GB skiers, to give us her top tips to anyone who’s planning on heading to the slopes.



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 our 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 more expert advice visit www.csp.org.uk or Lucy’s website www.octopusclinic.com

Lucy McDonald, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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