Colorado: If it ever snows enough to ski or board again, avoid these common ankle injuries and stay on the mountain longer!
In Colorado, we’re having one of the slowest starts to the ski and snowboard season in a while, with even less snow than last year at this time. But late December brought plenty of snow to the Rockies last year, so get ready skiers and riders – and keep these four tips in mind to avoid an ankle injury and stay in mountain-ready condition!
- Snowboarders beware: your risk of ankle injuries is higher than skiers.
It’s so common, it’s known as “snowboarder’s ankle” – which is actually a serious injury in the form of a fracture. This often occurs because snowboard boots are softer and less able to protect a rider from hard landings or awkward angles. The fracture is caused when the foot is pushed up and in-ward with sudden impact, and while it’s pretty easy to do – fractures account for as much as 50 percent of all rider ankle injuries – it’s harder to diagnose. It’s often hard to see or missed on x-rays and may require other tests to diagnose. If you have pain and swelling on the outside of your foot and ankle, see a foot and ankle specialist to confirm or rule out a fracture. Delaying treatment or a misdiagnosis can result in more serious long-term ankle pain and problems.
- Even though the slopes aren’t totally ready, be sure you are.
It’s never too late to include some pre-skiing or riding exercises in your normal routine. Building strength, stability and flexibility before you hit the slopes lessens your chance of ankle injuries and other injuries too! Many gyms offer ski-conditioning programs and there are simple exercises you can do on your own to strengthen your core, legs and upper body. Riders, can practice with a wobble board, for example, to improve balance and ankle stability. Skiers and riders can benefit from a medicine ball squat which builds muscles and endurance in the lower back, glutes, and quads.
- Skiers aren’t exempt from ankle injury – but it’s more likely to be a sprain
While firm ski boots are better at protecting the ankle than snowboard boots, sprains do still happen. When a skier comes down hard on the outside of their foot (which can happen while making a hard turn or stop, or by catching an edge), it forces the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to over-stretch or even tear. Most sprains heal on their own, but not before you manage through swelling, some pain and a sometimes pretty unsightly bruise. Severe sprains can require treatment including surgery. To minimize your risk of ankle sprain, ensure your boots fit snugly and your equipment is correctly sized and adjusted.
- Be extra cautious in bad (seriously, really bad) conditions
The Denver Post reports – and you may have experienced – very limited open terrain so far, and what is open is dotted with patches of grass, rock and ice. Uneven and slick spots can be extremely challenging, even for advanced skiers or riders – anyone can catch an edge or lose their balance in spotty terrain. And let’s not forget the crowds. An ankle injury can easily occur when large crowds are forced into increasingly narrowing runs as skiers and riders come to abrupt stops. Think of these early days as a warm up to many months of enjoyable mountain time and take it easy on your speeds and aggressive moves this early in the season.
Foot & Ankle Specialists