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Snow Skiing Stretches to Help Prevent Injury

Snow Skiing Stretches

Snow Skiing

One of my absolute favorite activities is snow skiing.  Growing up in Utah and having a Grandmother as a ski instructor gave me lots of opportunities to experience this wonderful winter sport.  There is nothing quite like carving up some fresh tracks in new powder.  While I have been blessed to be injury free in all my skiing experiences, I have treated a number of injuries from skiing related accidents.  So in this post we will take a look at some common snow skiing injuries that can occur, precautions you an take to avoid these injuries, and finally, a few snow skiing stretches to help prepare your body for a safe and enjoyable winter ski season.

Snow Skiing is a sporting activity that requires toughness, endurance, balance, agility, and co-ordination. Muscular tissues included in this winter sport are the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, low back and muscles of the arms.

The knee joint is the most essential joint in skiing, with the ankle joint, the wrist, thumb and shoulder girdle being the other joints of significance. Modern advances in ski boots and bindings safeguard the foot, ankle joint and the tibia from trauma.  However, these changes in technology also result in the ground pressure of skiing being transferred to the semi-flexed knee.

List of Common Snow Skiing Injuries

Despite advances in equipment injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee, spine injuries and head trauma continue to take place.  Thumb injuries are also a common occurrence from falling.

Knee Injuries: One third of all snow skiing related injuries involve the knee joint, with ligament trauma being the most common.  Meniscus injury, cruciate ligament damage, and collateral ligaments can all be involved either together or alone.

Hip Injuries: These occur as a result of torque and pressure placed onto flexed hips. Posterior dislocation of the hip joint can occur when the hip muscles and connective tissue aren’t ready for the torque created by snow skiing.

Upper Limb Injuries: Shoulder traumas consist of dislocations, rotator cuff tears, AC joint injuries, and collar bone (clavicle) fractures.  Common reason for these types of injuries are falling an outstretched arm and a “yanking” of the arm when skiing past a firmly planted ski pole.

Head and Neck Injuries: Head, neck and spine traumas are primarily responsible for the mortality linked with snow skiing traumas, with brain trauma being the single largest cause of death. These are more typical in advanced and adventurous skiers.  Research supports the use of safety helmets, which significantly lessens snow skiing head injuries without increasing the incidence of a neck trauma.

Snow Skiing Injury Prevention Strategies

Prior to the snow skiing season strategies:

  • Pay a visit to a physical therapist or healthcare provider and have them perform a functional movement screen to determine areas of tightness and weakness that could lead to potential problems and injuries.
  • Based on the results of your functional movement screen, begin and fitness routine to address problems areas and to improve strength, flexibility, stamina, agility, balance and co-ordination.
  • Select the proper equipment based on you level of experience.

During the snow skiing season/day of strategies:

  • Make sure that you increase your intake of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Warm up properly with snow skiing stretches that work the shoulders, low back, hips, legs and ankles.
  • Wear proper attire to protect from the elements: goggles to protect the eyes from glare off the snow, ski pants and a ski coat to protect against scrapes and lacerations from direct exposure to the skin, and remember to layer clothing appropriately to stay warm.

Special Tip for Holiday Skiers:

  • If skiing isn’t a normal activity for you, don’t overdo it.
  • Make sure you perform your snow skiing stretches before and after your day of skiing.
  • If skiing for multiple days, you should follow the Rule of 3s: quit before 3 pm daily, don’t ski more than 3,000 meters per day, and take the 3rd day off to keep the muscle tissues of the legs from burning out and less able to protect against injury.

The Top 4 Snow Skiing Stretches:

Stretching is one of the most under-utilized methods for improving sports performance and avoiding injury.  Don’t make the critical error of believing that stretching won’t help.  Below are 3 snow skiing stretches.  There are certainly many more that can be done, but these 3 stretches are a good place to start.

Snow Skiing Stretches – Shoulder Circle Warmup:

Shoulder Circles 2 Shoulder Circles 1


– Stand up straight and look directly ahead of you.
– With your elbows straight, move your arms forward, up, back, and down making circles with your arms that are as large as possible.
– Relax your arms back to the starting position and repeat 15-20 times.

Snow Skiing stretches – Low Back Rotation Stretch:

Lumbar Rotation 2 Lumbar Rotation


– Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
– Keeping your knees together, lower them to the ground as far as you can on one side and maintain the stretch.
– Do not raise your shoulders off the ground when you lower your knees.
– Hold for 30 seconds.  Return to beginning position and then repeat on each side 2-3 times.

Snow Skiing stretches – Standing Quad Stretch:

Snow Skiing Stretches - Standing Quad Stretch Quadriceps Stretch 1


– Stand tall in front of a chair and hold on to it for balance with one hand.
– Bend one knee and grab the top of your ankle with the hand on the same side.
– Pull your foot towards buttock. Continue pulling your foot until you feel a gentle stretch on front of the thigh.
– Make sure that the stretching leg remains in line with the stance leg.
– Keep your abdominals contracted to limit the arch in your back.
– Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.  Return to starting position and repeat 2-3 times on each leg.

Snow Skiing stretches – Standing Achilles Stretch:

Achilles Stretch 2 Achilles Stretch 1


– Stand tall on a step, placing only the balls of your feet on it.
– Use the railing on the stairs or place a table or chair in front of you to help you balance.
– Keeping your knees straight, slowly allow your heels to lower until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg.
– Hold for 30 seconds.  Return to the start position and the repeat 2-3 times.

To YOUR Success and a Healthy Snow Skiing Season!!

Snow Skiing Stretches


P.S. Please share this post on Snow Skiing Stretches with friends and family who may benefit from the information.

Recommendation for athletes and for people looking to take control of their health:

While the recommendations on this page are a good starting point, you’ll get a lot more benefit when you include a wider variety of exercises. So to improve your athletic ability, reduce injuries and really take advantage of all the stretching exercises on offer, grab a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility (Handbook, DVD & CD-ROM).

In total, they include 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretching exercises for every major muscle group in your body. Plus, over 80 printable stretching routines for 22 sports and 19 different muscle groups.

The DVD also includes 3 customized stretching routines (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core, plus a bonus CD-ROM that allows you to print out over 80 stretching routines that you can take with you where ever you go.

The Handbook and DVD will show you, step-by-step, how to perform each stretch correctly. Plus, you’ll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility for yourself for more snow skiing stretches along with stretches to help prevent other sports related injuries!



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2 Responses to Snow Skiing Stretches to Help Prevent Injury

  1. Great info! I don’t ski but I do a lot of kickboxing and all those body parts need stretching. I will be doing more of each of those. Thanks for the tips.

    • David Hawkins PT, CSCS at #

      Christie – Certainly they are great stretches for most activities that stress the lower body. Keep up the great work with kickboxing!!

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