Common Skiing Injuries (And How to Avoid Them)

While it’s an exhilarating sport, skiing can lead to a wide variety of aches, pains and serious injuries. In this post, we’re going to point out some of the common skiing injuries that our therapists treat patients for.


How popular is skiing in Michigan? The state is ranked second in the nation for the number of ski areas in a state.

While it’s an exhilarating sport, skiing can lead to a wide variety of aches, pains and serious injuries. In this post, we’re going to point out some of the common skiing injuries that our therapists treat patients for.

Then, we’re going to cover a few ways that you can prevent injury so that you can stay out on the slopes.

What are some common skiing injuries?

Skier’s thumb

“Skier’s thumb” is a nickname given to an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear. The injury is associated with skiing because it can be caused by falling onto outstretched hands while holding a ski pole.

However, you can also get skier’s thumb from a variety of other sports. In fact, a recent study showed that only 2.4% of thumb UCL tears resulted from skiing.

Symptoms of skier’s thumb include pain, swelling and weakness. You may also notice black and blue discoloration.

Treatment for skier’s thumb depends on the severity of the tear. In more serious cases, a hand surgeon will need to surgically repair the ligament.

ACL tear

Your thumb’s ligaments are the only ones at risk when skiing. Another common ligament tear among skiers is an ACL tear.

The ACL is one of four ligaments that stabilize your knee joint. Bending, twisting and jumping all put strain on the ACL. Too much pressure and you can sprain or tear your ACL.

How will you know if you’ve torn your ACL? Usually there’s a pop, intense pain and swelling. You may not be able to put any weight on the knee.

ACL tears require surgery to repair, followed by months of physical therapy.

While some ACL injuries can’t be avoided, this is one instance in which it’s important to maintain the proper form. Like many other sports, many skiing injuries are caused because poor form puts too much pressure on your body.

Rotator cuff strain

In a survey of injured skiers, one study found that 39% of all upper extremity injuries were related to the shoulder. And of those, the most common injury was a rotator cuff strain.

There are a couple of reasons that skier’s may end up with an injured rotator cuff. The fits is repetitive stress. The repetitive motions of skiing put strain on the rotator cuff over time. That strain causes inflammation and a weakening of the ligament.

Of course, you can also strain your rotator cuff while bracing yourself during a fall, or because of an impact with another object. Both of these happen often in skiing.

There are several non-surgical treatments for a strained rotator cuff, including physical therapy. However, a torn rotator cuff will earn you a trip to the surgeon.

Now that we’ve gone over a few of the common ways skier’s get hurt, let’s look at how you can prevent these injuries.

How do you prevent skiing injuries?

Some skiing injuries are inevitable. But there are a few ways that you can decrease your chances of getting hurt.

Strengthen your body

Stronger, healthier muscles and ligaments are more difficult to break. One way that you can decrease your chances of getting injured on the slopes is to spend some time in the gym. Strengthening your core and your legs may help reduce your chances of injury.

Get instruction on how to ski, and use proper form

Many skiing injuries can be avoided by using proper form. Bad form puts added strain on parts of your body. Too much twisting of the knees or hips can cause an ACL tear. Bad form can also lead to more falls, which can result in injuries like skier’s thumb and scaphoid fracture.

Make sure you have the right equipment

Having the right equipment plays an important role in preventing injury. Skis, ski boots and bindings should be the right fit for you. If you’re skiing with the wrong equipment, your body may overcompensate, which can lead to injury. The wrong equipment may also make accidents more likely.

Ski at your level

It’s okay to challenge yourself. But if you’re taking on slopes with a difficulty you aren’t ready for, your body will pay the price. There isn’t a good reason to go far beyond the limits of your skill. Professional instruction will also help you understand what you’re capable of and what you need to improve on.

Are you suffering from a skiing injury? Motus can help.

If you think that you might be in pain because of a ski injury, Motus Rehabilitation can help. Physical therapy helps skiers build strength, improve mobility and reduce pain. Motus has a close relationship with Michigan Surgery Specialists, whose surgeons have treated many injuries common to skiing.

Contact us to learn more about how physical therapy can get you back on the slopes in no time.

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