Skiing is a sport that impassioned many Italians, the most practiced is alpine skiing, but snowboarding and cross-country skiing are also popular, while there is a great growth in ski mountaineering. Skiing, however, exposes you to the risk of injury, especially if you are not well prepared, equipped or attentive. The knee and shoulder joints are the most prone to injury, but traumas to hands and wrists, neck and back are also common.

The traumas are related to energy: high-energy traumas cause fractures, particularly in the leg, humerus, shoulder, wrist, femur; low energy traumas usually generate distortions, affecting the knee, wrist, shoulder and hand. In high-energy trauma there may also be a combination of fracture and distortion.


But how do we prevent accidents? What good rules should be adopted on the ski slopes?

Here is the advice of Dr. Davide Marchettini, traumatologist at Humanitas, medical collaborator of the Italian Federation of Winter Sports, following the women’s giant slalom and slalom teams of the Alpine Ski World Cup.


Athletic preparation

“Accident prevention is mainly achieved through athletic preparation, with the achievement or consolidation of adequate muscle tone. It may therefore be useful to do warm-up exercises, depending on your abilities. It is advisable to start from simple tracks that do not require excessive effort, and then move on – where your preparation allows it – to more difficult and challenging routes.

Beginners should rely on a ski instructor and attend some lessons before skiing independently, so they can also receive small suggestions to limit the damage in case of a fall,” explains Dr. Marchettini.


Equipment in good condition and suitable equipment

“It is advisable to ensure that your equipment is in good condition: skis, bindings, boots, poles. If your skis are a bit outdated, it is a good idea to contact an authorized service center and have them checked. Moreover, when buying skis, you need to be careful: it is best to choose the right one for yourself, your body and your possibilities, even in this case to get advice is the best choice.

Protection with the right equipment, such as helmet and back protector, is essential,” recommends the specialist.


Good behavior on the track

“Once on the ski track, some precautions can limit the risk of getting hurt. First of all, you need to moderate your speed on skis, a speed that you can’t control also affects the execution of the athletic gesture that risks it being out of control; don’t venture off-track and choose tracks that suit your possibilities and conditions. It is also advisable to always ski in safety and in conditions that are not altered, for example by alcohol consumption. Furthermore, be careful not to stop in the middle of the track or just downstream of a bump: the following may not have an adequate reaction time to avoid the collision.

The quality of the snow and the weather conditions should also be taken into account: if there is fog or snow, and therefore in reduced visibility conditions, it is better to stop. During the day, the snow changes its characteristics: in the afternoon it becomes softer and requires greater strength from skiers; in the afternoon, however, the risk is being more tired if you have spent the day on the slopes and therefore you are less reactive and able to control movements, with a greater risk of injury. It is therefore advisable to take a break between the morning and the afternoon, dedicating yourself to other activities or resting.

Beware of snow conditions in low temperatures or after hot days (with the risk of “transformation” of the snow if it freezes during the night): the presence of ice plates increases the risk of falls and injuries.

Changes in light are also not to be underestimated: passing from the sun to the shade, as when you enter the tunnel in a car on a sunny day, can take a few seconds to adapt your eyesight: it is better to slow down the descent on skis and pay attention”, concluded Dr. Marchettini.