Every year, brave Vermonters face the cold winds of winter and participate in their winter sport of choice. More often than not, this involves a hefty set of equipment and enough snow to cover one of our best mountains here in the Green Mountain State. The winter months in Vermont are some of the best, but unfortunately not for every athlete or participant. With both skiing and snowboarding there are significant risks of injury no matter your age or experience level.

UVM Medical Center orthopedic surgeon Nathan Endres shares the most common winter sport injuries and how to protect yourself from them.

Most Common Winter Sport Injuries

Some of the most common injuries that Dr. Endres sees from skiing and snowboarding are those of upper body extremities such as shoulder, wrist and elbow, and lower body extremities, specifically knees. It is important to note that each sport is more susceptible to a certain type of injury.

Dr. Endres explains, “With snowboarding, it’s mainly injuries around the shoulder. Clavicle injuries, AC joint sprains, rotator cuff tears, fractures around the shoulder.” Why? When people snowboard, their lower half is securely strapped in while they use their hands and arms to catch their falls.

In contrast, skiers are more likely to injury lower body extremities, specifically knees. Dr. Endres explains: “The boot binding mechanism and release system, or lack thereof, leads to a lot of rotational force at the knee.” The main injury seen in the winter with skiing is ACL tears.

It’s important to know the risks of winter sports injuries, but it’s even more important to know the preventative measures that can be done to protect yourself and lessen your chances of injury.

How to Protect Yourself from a Winter Sport Injury:

  • Know your experience level; don’t ski or snowboard on trails above your ability.
  • Use equipment fitted for your size and experience level.
  • Check your equipment annually to make sure it is safe to use.
  • Recognize fatigue levels. You are more at risk for mistakes that lead to injury when tired.
  • Practice general strength exercises and stretching.
  • Ask your doctor if you have an existing injury and want to know if it is safe to participate.

The winter time is a great time to get out and be active. Make sure to keep yourself safe on the slopes and take the steps for preventing winter sports injury as often as you can!

Learn more about Orthopedic Care at the University of Vermont Medical Center. 

Visit Vermont Ski Safety for more tips, research, and expert advice. 

Nathan Endres, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon with additional fellowship training in sports medicine, shoulder surgery and orthopedic trauma. He has a certificate of added qualification (CAQ) in orthopedic sports medicine.


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