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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 HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the eighth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2017-2018). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. People from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The culture of innovation is accelerating at HSS as 130 new idea submissions were made to the Global Innovation Institute in 2017 (almost 3x the submissions in 2015). The HSS Education Institute is the world’s leading provider of education on the topic on musculoskeletal health, with its online learning platform offering more than 600 courses to more than 21,000 medical professional members worldwide. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.


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