10 ways to avoid falls on the slopes


It’s been a difficult season for skiers in the Alps – it was reportedly the driest winter in all of France in more than 60 years, with Météo-France reporting no precipitation at all between January 21 and February 21. This has changed the conditions on the slopes to some of the most demanding in recent memory and has led to an increase in the number of accidents.

Reports from Grenoble Hospital confirm that up to 100 people are admitted with ski-related injuries every day.

dr Jean-Jacques Banihachémi, head of the emergency department at the Hôpital Sud de Grenoble in France, said the hospital was in a “catastrophic” situation. “We see between 80 and 100 patients a day,” he says. His department has had to transfer patients to Lyon for surgery, including an increasing number of femoral neck fractures, as well as knee, shoulder and wrist fractures.

There is always some risk involved in skiing and snowboarding, but there are a number of precautions you can take to reduce the risk of injury that will at least ruin your vacation, if not lead to a long road to recovery.

It is best to train your body in advance, no matter how old you are. Basic exercises like wall squats and sit-ups aren’t enough, it’s about building your alignment and strength specifically for skiing or snowboarding. This allows you to use your body efficiently, tire less and react more quickly to unexpected obstacles.

If you do not have time to train yourself before a holiday, there are still measures on the slopes. Many of them may seem like common sense, but common sense can all too easily slip out the window with that first breath of mountain air.

Tired, sick or drunk? Don’t ski

Skiing and snowboarding are both high-energy sports that require concentration of body and mind, especially at high altitudes. If you are not functioning optimally, you are more likely to have a fall.

Let this ‘one last run’

Go home exhilarated, not exhausted. That final run can be icy, muddy, bumpy and full of moving obstacles that, like you, are tired. Swallow your pride and take that bubble back, or just go home a little early.

icy snow - REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

icy snow – REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Stay in your comfort zone

Spending time in a group of skiers and snowboarders more competent than yourself is an excellent way to improve your technique, but it’s not worth the potential bumps and pauses that come with trying desperately all day to keep up with them and tackle pitches well beyond your capabilities.

Stretch afterwards, not before

Static stretching before skiing can increase the risk of injury. While your muscles are still warm at the end of the day, do static stretches for your back, quads (front of thighs), glutes (buttocks), and any other muscles that feel tight.

Warm up

Head to the lifts and then start out on the slopes with gentle climbs and slow, sweeping turns before building up to steeper descents and shorter turns. You need to warm up at the beginning of the day and again after a break of more than a few minutes, e.g. B. after lunch.

Stay hydrated and don’t forget your five a day

Be sure to drink enough water throughout the day as dehydration makes you lethargic and can be dangerous. Coffee and caffeinated drinks are dehydrating, as is alcohol. It is also important to make sure you have enough fruit and vegetables on the slopes. These are essential to allow your muscles to recover, maintain your immune system and optimize energy release.

Positional practice

Proprioception: This is your body’s sense of position and working it is one of the best ways to prevent injury. Basic proprioception exercises produce immediate results, but it’s best to start practicing as early as possible. Stand on one leg with your eyes closed and try to keep your balance for as long as possible. Wave your hands over a prop if you need it.

hold safe

Only stop at the edge of a piste and never over a hilltop as you may be invisible to others coming over the lip. Sounds obvious, but it’s crazy how many people still do it.


Helmets for everyone and wrist and tailbone protectors for snowboarders. Choose skis or a snowboard that suit your ability and don’t crank your binding settings too high – it could be the difference between your skis popping off in a fall and a badly twisted knee.

Get ready

Knee wraps come in two types. The first is the basic neoprene stretch brace. These help the body’s sense of position and keep the knee warm, helpful for cartilage problems or arthritis. At the higher end of the price spectrum are carbon fiber ankle wraps that reduce knee shear and are often worn by people trying to prevent ligament injuries. These braces are the best way to do this, but no brace will completely stop the rotational forces that cause most ligament tears.

Lucy Macdonald is a Physiotherapist specializing in snow sports. She offers one-to-one consultations and customized programs to improve performance and prevent injuries, as well as to treat injuries and pain. She practiced in Val d’Isère, France for four seasons and works with all levels of skiers and snowboarders, from beginner to pro. For more information, more advice and videos visit octopusclinic.com.

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