Knee-related skiing injuries: from prevention to treatment

23 Jan 2019

Mr Deepu Sethi talks about the most common knee injuries that occur through skiing, how to prevent them and how to treat them.

For many, this time of year brings with it the excitement of winter sports such as skiing. In order to enjoy this activity to the maximum and avoid unnecessary injury, it’s best to go prepared.

Why are the knees susceptible to injury when skiing?

The knees are one of the two largest joints in the body. They work closely with the hips to support the body’s weight and assist movement. The vast majority of knee injuries are to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL). It’s difficult to go from an office environment to spending several hours each day on a ski slope.

The physical aspect of skiing requires a combination of core strength, aerobic fitness, proprioception and balance. It’s important to be aware of your energy and fitness levels and try not to exceed these. Weather conditions also play a part and when there is softer snow this can increase the risk of twisting and injuring the knee.

Why are we seeing skiers sustain more knee injuries than previously?

The design of the modern ski is curved and tends to carve, rather than stick, or drag through the snow which can cause the ski to steer away from the body, thereby twisting the knee.

The design of the boot is also important – modern boots are very good at protecting the ankles and shins, but this can transfer more load and rotation to the knees.

The equipment you choose can have an impact and should be chosen to suit the needs of the individual. However, without a doubt the most significant factor in sustaining an injury is due to lack of physical preparation. 

What can skiers do to prevent injuries?

Start your physical training at least six weeks prior to your skiing trip. Work on your core muscle strength and aerobic fitness. Regular swimming, cycling and using a cross-trainer would be an excellent start.

If you are new to skiing do take lessons, as a good skiing technique will minimise your risk of injury. Be aware of your body and if muscle fatigue sets in, take a rest day. 

What treatment options are available for knee injuries?

ACL injuries are the most common knee injury and in general should be treated once you have arrived home. Not all people who injure their ACL need surgery but when required, this can be safely performed weeks, or even months after the initial injury.

Operating on a swollen stiff knee very soon after an injury often results in a poor outcome. In the first few days and weeks following an ACL injury, the priority is to reduce the swelling and increase the range of motion of the knee. A normal x-ray does not always tell the whole story, so a review by a knee surgeon is advisable. 

At The London Clinic, our orthopaedic specialists will discuss with you your individual care and treatment options including, when necessary surgical repair and reconstruction.

Surgery by our world-leading consultants and expert nursing teams is also fully supported by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, strength and conditioning coaches, throughout your journey. Using the latest pioneering techniques and expert clinical knowledge, you can expect a full and swift recovery.


Any views expressed in this article are those of the featured specialist(s) and should not be considered to be the views or official policy of The London Clinic.