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Stop Ski Injuries Before They Happen

Getting ready for ski season means more than getting those skis waxed.

A skier's body needs attention, too.

To prevent injury, conditioning should begin before the snowflakes fall, according to experts at the Navy Environmental Health Center (NEHC).

The health center recommends exercising the same muscles used while skiing, both in the upper and lower body. Strengthening those muscles will reduce the risk for injury if you fall or lose control of your skis. Using the indoor ski machine at the gym, lifting weights and other kinds of fitness exercises will help. But be sure to exercise at a leisurely pace, and don't do too much too soon.

The cardiovascular system may also need a tune-up before skiers hit the slopes -- aerobic exercise can increase stamina and prevent fatigue.

Make sure all ski equipment is in good shape and up-to-date. Newer model ski boots now have multi-mode release bindings and are taller, decreasing the risk of ankle and foot injuries.

Clothing should be weather-appropriate as well, with layers that can be donned or shed, depending on ski conditions. Accessories such as glove liners, masks and boot warmers are recommended.

Remember to warm up and stretch muscles for at least five to 10 minutes before skiing.

Once on the slopes, make sure you're alert. Most ski injuries are the result of a fall, and most falls occur in the afternoon, with fatigue being a major factor in ski accidents.

Keep an eye on your environment. Note any potential for an avalanche or white-outs, which occur when cloud cover completely blocks vision. Don't drink alcohol, because it promotes heat loss. However, taking in other liquids, and nutritious foods, will decrease the risk of exposure-related illnesses such as hypothermia.

Lastly, caution remains key to safety on the slopes. Most ski fatalities are caused by trauma to the head or neck, heart attacks and hypothermia, so watch where you're going, and stop skiing if you don't feel well or suspect frostbite.

More on Sports Injuries


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