For most people, it’s usually something very simple. Maybe a lazy effort getting into or out of a lift chair, or losing their balance standing in the lift line. But the ending’s almost always the same - injured knees.
Knee injuries have replaced broken bones as the chief menace of Alpine skiing, mostly because of better boots, better skis and better skiing.
“The advances in equipment have helped people out quite a bit,” said Dr. Marvin Royster of the Peachtree Orthopedic Clinic in Atlanta. “Binders release generally when they are supposed to. Yet knee ligaments are at the greatest risk because you have a ski on … and your body weight and the ski can torque those knee ligaments around to the point they either get strained or will even tear.”
Royster said it is unusual to see cases in his clinic where the injury occurred because the skier was barreling down the hill at breakneck speed.
“It can occur at anything from a novice skier getting on the chair lift and having the ski tip drag because you have such a long lever on the leg,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest way it happens - something simple.”
You can not “strengthen” your knee in and of itself. The knee is just a joint where several bones come together. What you can strengthen and train are the muscles that attach via tendons to the bones of the knee. These muscles can absorb forces applied to the knee and protect it from excess force.
Work on strengthening the quadriceps, which run down the front of your thigh, with squats, leg extensions and leg presses.
Along the back of your knee, your hamstrings are responsible for bending your leg at the knee. Best exercises are done on a leg extension machine and a hamstring curl machine.
Finally, you can prepare your knee for normal side-to-side pressure by incorporating lateral motion into your off-the-slope training. This can include using an indoor slide trainer, side-to-side plyometrics such as jumping over a cone, and lateral movements such as jumping jacks in the deep end of a pool.
Repetitive leg lifts lying on the floor are only minimally effective. Strengthening your abductors and adductors (outer and inner thigh muscles) will be more effective in an activity that mimics ski movements.
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