In this special installment of the In the Mind of series, Dr. Sabrina Strickland, orthopedic surgeon, shares her knowledge and experiences skiing.
My experiences over the past 35 years of skiing have certainly influenced by as a sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon. Miraculously, I have never suffered a serious injury but I certainly have come close. I still remember my first time on skis. My parents dropped me off with my middle school friends at a ski area one town over from where I grew up in Massachusetts and I set off up the hill on the tow rope only to come crashing down, skis off, multiple times. By the end of that day I was hooked and starting taking after school ski lessons. In high school I went on school ski trips and joined the ski team as a senior. I wasn’t good enough to be competitive but I loved it. Attending college at Cornell did not provide any decent opportunity for skiing but I was able to ski at Stratton during the holiday breaks and taught kids how to ski as a ski instructor.
I went to college with the plan of becoming an orthopedic surgeon and I knew that there would be little opportunity to take time off or ski for that matter. Fortuitously my college best friend’s family had a house in Crested Butte, Colorado. How lucky was I to have a free place to spend a year off before medical school? During this year we hiked up to reach the farthest most extreme spots to ski and ate snickers bars for lunch rather than stop skiing during the day.
A 10 year hiatus followed during med school and residency during which I didn’t ski more than a day or two. Skiing is expensive and far from Chicago (med school) and New York (residency). When I returned to skiing I was happy to find out that the new skis were easier to ski on and quickly I got back to skiing the trees and steeps.
For the past 5 years my kids have been ski racing and we now ski about 30 plus days a year. I have several suggestions to minimize injuries when skiing.
- Wear a helmet! It doesn’t matter how many years you skied without one; it can save your life.
- Have your bindings and boots checked at least once a year. My ski popped off on a steep trail last year in Snowbird, sending me headfirst downhill and it turned out that the binding had malfunctioned.
- Get in shape before ski season. You will have more fun and ski safer
- Work in some balance exercises as part of your work out as you will ski better
- Have your skis tuned constantly. There is no such thing as too sharp.
Have a great rest of this winter and let’s hope for lots more snow.
Dr. Sabrina Strickland is an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Women’s Sports Medicine Center and at the HSS Stamford Outpatient Center, where she treats both male and female patients. Her research has focused on anterior cruciate ligament injuries in women, as well as rotator cuff repair and shoulder instability.