Preventing Snow Ski Injury


Dr Cunningham on the slopes with an injured US Ski Team athlete

With holiday and winter ski season approaching, Dr. Kelly Cunningham, a US Ski Team physician for 15 years, orthopedist and founder of Austin Ortho+Biologics, treats many snow ski & snowboard injuries. He is often asked what he recommends to avoid ski injury on the slopes.

As traveling doctor for the men’s Olympic downhill team, Dr. Cunningham accompanied the athletes throughout the US, Canada and Europe on the World Cup tour. He was responsible for the triage, stabilization, and treatment of world-class skiers.

A previous discussion focused on conditioning and getting in “ski-shape”. What about staying healthy, once on the slopes?

First and foremost, adjust to the altitude in your first few days. While there are medications that will improve your blood oxygen, they require a prescription and can have side effects. Perhaps the easiest to take along are low-dose aspirin or ginko biloba, as both are safe (unless allergic) and easy to take. Low-level exercise and lots of water (especially during the first night) are also key, as is abstinence from alcohol during the first 24 hours at altitude.

Modern skis, boots, and bindings are universally safe now, unlike in decades past. Multi-release bindings help you come out of your skis safely in a fall and with less stress on your knees, the most commonly injured joint in a skier. Make sure they are set correctly.

Speaking of knees, in most solid, intermediate skiers, unlike beginners (learning to stop) and racers (ACL injury from shear forces), serious knee injuries are actually quite rare.

The best way to protect yourself from ski injury is:

  •    ski within your limits
  •    stay relaxed but focused
  •    watch out for that last, fatigued run of the afternoon
  •    if you fall, fall forward and throw your hands in front of you

And always, always, wear a helmet!

If you need ski injury care in Austin, contact us today and schedule a consultation with Dr. Kelly Cunningham


          Call Dr. Kelly Cunningham at  Austin Ortho + Biologics   to be evaluated or with any questions


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