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Written by: Michael Sabatino PT, DPT

It’s that time of the year again to dust off the skis and hit the slopes. In recent years, ACL injuries have become quite prevalent in Alpine skiing.

An injury to the ACL can result in an unstable knee, which may lead to expensive surgery. This can also cause a lengthy period of rehabilitation in order for the skier to resume an active lifestyle. The good news is that a little education can go a long way to minimize the risk involved, and you can be a weekend warrior without the hospital visit.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the main ligament that connects your thigh to your shin bone and keeps your knee stable and shin in place. While there are three other ligaments that provide knee stability, the focus here is on the ACL due to its high prevalence of injury. According to (Majewski 2006), approximately 20,000 skiers become injured each year. There are various ways in which this injury can occur. The most predominant cause of this injury results from an innocuous, slow, and twisting fall backwards. The other most common way to injure the ACL is when a person falls while his or her foot is stuck in the ski and binding. This results in the skis becoming twisted which places adverse strain on the ACL.
Following a few simple suggestions can help you to avoid ACL injuries during ski season.  Ensure that you are physically ready for the slopes. As you begin to fatigue, follow proper technique and take breaks as needed. Avoid potentially dangerous situations altogether – there is nothing wrong with sticking to the nicely groomed trails and powder and steering clear of the obstacle park!

If a fall appears imminent, below are tips for a safe landing:

  • Keep your feet together
  • Do not straighten your knees during the fall
  • Try to land on your side; do not try to break the fall with your arms. If your skis are still moving, your knees are at risk.
  • Do not try to get up until you have completely stopped sliding. You can always get your equipment back afterwards.

Injuries on the slopes occasionally occur, but taking the necessary precautions will help prevent injuries and keep you healthy on the slopes all season long.

The physical therapists at Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation in Shrewsbury and Wall Township are experienced in working with patients to prevent, treat and rehabilitate ACL injuries. To learn more about MPR’s comprehensive physical therapy treatment program call 732-345-1377 or fill out the form on this page.