Off To The Snow? – Ski smart and ski safe.

Many people take to the snow without thought to the risks involved and without adequate preparation. This lack of preparation can result in injury. As skiing and snowboarding are physically demanding sports that require flexibility, strength, endurance, speed and quick reflexes preparation is essential to help prevent injuries such as sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures that can occur on the slopes.

To help get the most from your alpine experience, Smartplay, Sports Medicine Australia’s sports injury prevention program funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing offers the following tips: 

Undertake Good Snow Preparation

  • Underake pre-season conditioning and training to build up your fitness, strength and flexibility
  • Novices should take ski/ snowboard lessons to develop skills and safety techniques
  • Don’t ski or snowboard to warm up. Warm up and stretch before any type of activity and cool down and stretch afterwards
  • Assess the ski and weather conditions and your skill level before skiing/ snowboarding.

Wear The Right Snow Gear

• Seek professional advice when choosing or hiring equipment. Select equipment suited to your activity, skill level and size. Also ensure equipment is in good working order

• Wear clothing, including gloves and a warm hat that is waterproof and breathes. Layer clothing so you can remove layers to control your body temperature 

• Ensure boots are fitted and comfortable, durable and waterproof, with thermal protection

• For snowboard novices, soft-shell boots are recommended

• Snowboards should be attached to the rider by a leash to prevent injuries to others on the slopes

• Eyewear that gives UV protection and a sunscreen with a high SPF should be worn, even on cloudy days.

Child learning to ski with instructor

Learn Good Snow Technique and Practices

• When skiing, hold your poles correctly. Put the strap on your wrist and then hold the ski pole so that the strap is included in your grip 

• Be aware of the grading of ski runs. Only ski on runs suited to your skill level 

• Do not ski too fast or out of control and stay away from out-of-bounds areas

 • Never ski or snowboard alone

• Always inform someone of where you are going, how long you will be gone for and the time you expect to return

• Adequate rest, nutrition, hydration and regular snacks will enhance performance and reduce injury risks 

• Do not ski/snowboard under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol negatively affects performance and can contribute to hypothermia. 

For further advice on exercising safely and avoiding injury in the winter months please check out this article.

For more snow tips download the Smartplay Downhill Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing and Snowboarding Fact Sheets at both Better Health Victoria and Snow Safe.