Tips for Preventing Common Skiing Injuries

By Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP for Athletico Physical Therapy

tips for preventing common ski injuries

Skiing is a popular outdoor winter activity that we tend to hear a lot about during the Winter Olympic Games. With the Winter Olympics occurring in PyeongChang this year, it is expected that the skiing will be making headlines in the coming weeks – from discussing amazing performances to unpredictable injuries.

Although skiing is a sport where lower body injuries are more common, upper body injuries can occur as well. Read below to learn about five common injuries that downhill skiers should be aware of, as well as tips to prevent these injuries from occurring.

ACL Tears

Most anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears occur from a non-contact knee injury, meaning the tear occurs when the knee is in poor positioning, not by the knee being hit or fallen on. In skiing, ACL tears can occur due to landing a jump in poor form with the weight too far back or when a skier tries to prevent a fall. Skiers who are falling should try to let the fall happen as safely as possible rather than trying to fight it to stand up. Trying to prevent a fall could result in twisting the torso in relation to the lower half, which may lead to knee twisting. This is when the ACL can tear.

MCL Injury

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is on the inside of the knee. It is often injured or torn when the skier falls after trying to slow or stop by using the ski tips pointed toward one another in the snowplow position. MCL injuries are more common in beginner and intermediate skiers. Tips to decrease risk of MCL injury include making sure weight is balanced when in the snowplow position and staying on runs that are a comfortable challenge but not too advanced for the skier’s skillset.

AC Sprain

An acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprain is an injury to the ligament that holds the AC joint together at the top of the shoulder. Injury to this area is usually caused by a fall onto an outstretched arm. Skiers can decrease the risk of this type of injury by pulling arms toward the body should a fall occur, rather than trying to catch themselves on an outstretched arm.

Clavicle Fracture

Another injury that can occur when falling on the shoulder or outstretched hand is a fractured clavicle. The clavicle is the bone that is commonly called the “collar bone.” The best way to decrease the risk of a clavicle fracture is to decrease the risk of falling by sticking to runs that align with the skier’s skillset.

Thumb Sprain – a.k.a. “Skier’s Thumb”

Skier’s thumb occurs when a skier falls with a pole in hand. This can cause the thumb to overextend and sprains the ligament on the inside portion of the thumb. There are thumb stabilizers available to skiers that need them, otherwise the best way to prevent this injury is to avoid putting hands through the ski pole loops unless absolutely necessary.

Safety First

These are just a few of the injuries that can occur in downhill skiers. Although data shows that women are at a slightly higher risk of knee injuries and men are at a higher risk for shoulder injuries, it is important for all skiers to put safety first – especially inexperienced or novice skiers.

It is also important to note that there may be a higher incidence of head injuries associated with ski jumping or snowboarding where aerial tricks are being performed. To decrease the risk of head injury, helmets should be worn by all skiers and snowboarders. Should muscle soreness or pain occur after hitting the slopes, make sure to visit the nearest Athletico location for a complimentary injury screen.

Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen

The Importance of Sleep for Dancers; Treating Hand & Wrist Injuries

Episode 17.26  Rerun

Segment One (01:25): Julie O’Connell PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, Performing Arts Medicine importance of sleep for dancersProgram Manager at Athletico-River North talks dancers vs other athletes regarding sleep; what happens during sleep for dancers and useful tips for quality sleep. While the days are getting shorter, rehearsals are getting longer and cutting into valuable time meant for counting sheep.

Julie specializes in the treatment of dancers and performing artists and has extensive experience working with organizations like The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Broadway in Chicago.

The CDC recommends 8-10 hours of sleep for teens 13-18 years old, and 7 or more hours per night for adults 18-60 years old. This can be difficult to achieve for dancers, whose rehearsals consist of specialized physical activity of high volume, frequency and intensity throughout the week. Dancers also don’t usually have an off-season, which can contribute to increased incidence of altered sleep-wake rhythms, illness and musculoskeletal injuries. More>>


Segment Two (13:11): Dr. John Fernandez from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush describes microsurgery; recent innovations in hand and wrist surgery; re-plantation and transplantation of limbs; types of hand injuries experienced by athletes at all levels.

Dr. John FernandezDr. Fernandez has created and innovated some of the advanced surgeries currently popularized in the treatment of the hand, wrist, and elbow. His original research has led to techniques minimizing surgical trauma while maximizing outcomes. As an inventor, he holds patents in some of the very implants developed for these minimally invasive surgeries.

As director of microsurgery for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, he has performed hundreds of successful microsurgical procedures. These have included replantation of amputated arms, hands, and digits, as well as complex reconstructions for deformity and wounds.

He is a board certified member of the ABOS and holds the highest distinction in hand surgery with a certificate of added qualification in hand and microsurgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and a member of the American Association for Hand Surgery as well as the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

Common Hand Injuries: Text Thumb; Little League Pitchers: Do’s & Don’ts; Importance of Sleep for Optimal Recovery

Episode 17.35 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

new host image


Segment One (01:10): Dr. Nik Verma sitting in this week for Dr. Cole joins Steve andImage result for thumb overuse Nicole Kauppila from Athletico Physical Therapy to discuss Tech Thumb injury.

Each year as we approach the holidays, smartphones are listed as a top gift.  With use of smart phones – tech-related injuries called “tech-thumb” resulting from unnatural movements like constant texting are on the rise.

New smartphones often means even more time straining thumbs, in fact young adults spend a staggering one-third of their waking hours on smart phones. Nicole describes causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment for overuse injuries of the hand.


 Segment Two (11:46): Dr. Nik Verma, Head Team Physician for the Chicago White Sox talks with Steve about how to avoid overuse throwing injuries in young athletes; avoid training in one sport all year long, high pitch velocity and pitch counts that can cause damage from repetitive load on the growth plates of young athletes.

Image result for little league pitcher


Segment Three (20:14): Todd Sayer, PT from ATI Physical Therapy talks about the importance of sleep for optimal recovery; the correct supportive neutral sleep position; avoiding compressed shoulder joint in side sleepers. 

How you sleep dictates how you perform, so whether you are falling short on logging enough sleep each night or poor sleep posture is inhibiting a solid day’s performance, making a few simple changes can help to enable a good night’s rest and support your body’s ability to adapt and adjust.

Todd Sayer  is a Senior Regional Director with ATI. He has 18 years of clinical experience specializing in treatment outpatient orthopedic and sports medicine injuries as well as chronic pain and post-operative care.

Overcoming Sleep Challenges and Discomfort

 Athletico/Bank of America Marathon;  Kris Dunn’s Finger Injury; Post Marathon Recovery

Episode 17.27 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

new host image


Segment One (01:34): Travis Orth PT, DPT from Athletico Physical Therapy talks about the history and involvement of Athletico with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon: providing endurance program therapists; pre and post run medical services; free injury screening; video gait and form analysis; lectures on recovery.

Start line

Travis is an APTA Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist.  He also has advanced manual therapy training from the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy.  In 2015 Travis was selected as one of three therapists nationally to participate in the prestigious Kevin Wilk Sports Travel Fellowship. His passion for sports medicine and scientific research is highlighted through over 10 publications, including 5 peer reviewed articles. He is an endurance specialist, published in both Triathlon and Running magazines.  He is also an accomplished Ironman and Boston Marathon qualifier.

Learn more about Athletico’s Endurance Rehabilitation Services


Segment Two (10:33): Bulls point guard Kris Dunn suffered an open dislocation of his left index finger during Chicago’s 114-101 preseason win over the Milwaukee Bucks, head coach Fred Hoiberg said. Dunn hurt his finger after trying to contest a dunk from Bucks shooting guard Sterling Brown. Dr. Cole explains the protocol in treating this type of injury and the fast work by his medical team to minimize the damage and pain.

An upbeat Kris Dunn addresses his future after finger injury


Segment Three (19.36):  Dr. Doug Adams PT, DPT, SCS, OCS, CSCS for ATI Physical Therapy discusses Post Marathon Recovery:

  1. What Happens to the body after marathon?
  2. How long does it take to recover?
  3. What can a runner do to speed up the recovery process?
  4. When should someone return to running after a marathon?

Dr. Doug Adams is a residency trained Physical Therapist with dual Board Certified Specialties in sports and orthopedics. Doug treats a largely athletic population from Olympic level to weekend warrior, with a focus on runners and triathletes. He created Trace3D, which is a portable 3D Motion Analysis System that is one of the first systems to allow access to 3D biomechanical data for athletes outside of a research or professional sports setting.

Doug also frequently lectures on sports medicine topics both locally and nationally, with multiple peer-reviewed publications. Doug is an Advisory Board Liaison and treats patients in Wilmington, DE for ATI Physical Therapy and is the Co-Founder of a Continuing Education Company called Association of Clinical Excellence.

See our Related ATI post: Tips for a Healthy Post-Marathon Recovery

The Importance of Sleep for Dancers; Treating Hand & Wrist Injuries

Episode 17.26 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

new host image


Segment One (01:25): Julie O’Connell PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, Performing Arts Medicine importance of sleep for dancersProgram Manager at Athletico-River North talks dancers vs other athletes regarding sleep; what happens during sleep for dancers and useful tips for quality sleep. While the days are getting shorter, rehearsals are getting longer and cutting into valuable time meant for counting sheep.

Julie specializes in the treatment of dancers and performing artists and has extensive experience working with organizations like The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Broadway in Chicago.

The CDC recommends 8-10 hours of sleep for teens 13-18 years old, and 7 or more hours per night for adults 18-60 years old. This can be difficult to achieve for dancers, whose rehearsals consist of specialized physical activity of high volume, frequency and intensity throughout the week. Dancers also don’t usually have an off-season, which can contribute to increased incidence of altered sleep-wake rhythms, illness and musculoskeletal injuries. More>>


Segment Two (13:11): Dr. John Fernandez from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush describes microsurgery; recent innovations in hand and wrist surgery; re-plantation and transplantation of limbs; types of hand injuries experienced by athletes at all levels.

Dr. John FernandezDr. Fernandez has created and innovated some of the advanced surgeries currently popularized in the treatment of the hand, wrist, and elbow. His original research has led to techniques minimizing surgical trauma while maximizing outcomes. As an inventor, he holds patents in some of the very implants developed for these minimally invasive surgeries.

As director of microsurgery for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, he has performed hundreds of successful microsurgical procedures. These have included replantation of amputated arms, hands, and digits, as well as complex reconstructions for deformity and wounds.

He is a board certified member of the ABOS and holds the highest distinction in hand surgery with a certificate of added qualification in hand and microsurgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and a member of the American Association for Hand Surgery as well as the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.