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Ski/Snowboard Injury Prevention Page 2

Although almost any body part can be damaged while skiing or snowboarding, there are some differences in the patterns of injuries between skiers and snowboarders.  Skiers are more likely to injure their knees and snowboarders are more like to injure their arms. This is due to differences in equipment and style. Skiers use stiff hard boots that transmit tremendous forces to the knee from long skis. Snowboarders, however, use soft shelled boots and shorter boards that are more forgiving at the knees. When snowboarders fall, however, they typically land on their arms, wrists or hands resulting in a higher rate of injury. The reasons for a higher rate of a spleen injury in snowboarders, however, is less clear. It may be due to the aerial tricks they like to perform and the hard landings that sometimes occur. Finally, the new super side cut skis have been observed to have a higher than expected incidence of injuries when compared to conventional skis. Again, the reasons for this are not yet known.

The most common knee injury is a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).  This is one of the main stabilizers of the knee and is torn when the skiers is to off balance to the rear. With the skier's weight on the inside edge of the downhill ski and weight in the backseat, the hips shift lower than the knees creating a severe imbalance. The uphill arm swings backward and the downhill ski gets stuck in the snow twisting the knee violently leading to an ACL tear.  A second common mechanism by which skiers tear an ACL is to land with knees fully extended after a jump. The stiff boots transmits the force up from the leg to the knee tearing the ACL.  It is also possible to injury other ligaments or cartilage in the knee when skiing.   Less common but important problems such as thumb ligament injuries, shoulder dislocation and rotator cuff tears may also occur.  

Ski/Snowboard Injury Prevention Page 3