Are You In Shape For The Ski Season?

’Tis The Season When “Weekend” Skiers Rack Up a Host of Injuries

New York, NY—July 1, 2001 

“Every year we get an influx of 'weekend' skiers who have pulled muscles, torn ligaments and cartilage in their knees -- often the result of a lack of exercise in the Fall months preceding ski season,” notes Dr. Frank Cordasco, an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery. As a sports medicine physician, Dr. Cordasco understands the importance of being in good physical shape.

Proper physical conditioning - for cardiovascular health, muscle strength and flexibility - can put the average skier at less risk for injury. Using good equipment, knowing how to ski properly and avoiding risky situations can help skiers enjoy the sport without accidents, according to Cordasco. “It’s the last run of the day when skiers are tired that leads to many of the injuries we see,” he notes. Common sense is recommended: “Even the best of skiers has a hard time on icy slopes.”

Dr. Cordasco and his colleagues at Hospital for Special Surgery see the following ski injuries each year. Many of them could be avoided with the aforementioned advice:

  • Torn ligaments account for an estimated two thirds of all knee injuries. Damage to cartilage in the knee is common as well.
  • Landing from a jump or skiing on moguls can lead to a torn anterior cruciate ligament inside the knee.
  • Twisting knee injury can occur when novice skiers don’t know how to fall. Falling back with skis crossed can cause this condition.
  • It’s also important to know when to release the boots from the binding.
  • “Skier’s thumb” is a torn ligament injury that occurs frequently when falling in the snow or getting the thumb jammed in the pole strap.
  • More traumatic is the kind of shoulder dislocation that comes from a direct blow. Young skiers in their teens and 20s tend to get this kind of injury.
  • Older skiers can get shoulder rotator cuff tears and fractures to the upper arm.
  • Leg and thighbone fractures can be incurred by some.
  • Non-orthopedic damage includes hypothermia and frostbite. Spring skiers are known to complain of sunburn.
  • People who are not used to the high altitude of tall mountains can suffer from the fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and confusion that can result from less oxygen at great heights. This is called altitude sickness.
  • Snowboarders can fall and incur wrist and forearm fractures. Wrist guards can help prevent these injuries.
  • Cross-country skiers can suffer from overuse injuries like tendinitis of the elbow. Sunburn, hypothermia and frost bite can affect them as well.

About Hospital for Special Surgery
Founded in 1863, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is a world leader in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2007), and has received Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In the 2006 edition of HealthGrades' Hospital Quality in America Study, HSS received five-star ratings for clinical excellence in its specialties. A member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System and an affiliate of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, HSS provides orthopedic and rheumatologic patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. All Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are on the faculty of Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at

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