It cannot hurt to get in shape. While there is no “hard” proof that physical conditioning reduces the risk of injury in skiing, it only makes sense to be as fit as possible. Pre-season conditioning can reduce various injuries. Proponents suggest a 4 to 6 week pre-season regimen of strength and flexibility training for the legs, under the theory that improving muscle tissue will help protect the knee. Getting in shape for ski season is always a great idea!
Ski Smarter! A program promoted by the Vermont Ski Safety organization has conducted a study showing the risk of ACL injuries can be reduced by following specific on-snow practices. Under this program, a group of ski professionals lowered their injury rate by following some guidelines such as - “finish falling” before you try to get up. This makes a lot of sense. If you are in the prime position to increase the likelihood of a knee injury (hips and knees bent, rear-weighted), your risk may be increased by trying to get out of it.
However, the most reliable method for reducing your chance of a knee injury is to use ski bindings that have been specifically designed to mitigate knee injuries. Most bindings are NOT designed to release in situations that cause knee injuries. But a new kind of bindings is now readily available in North America that can release directly sideways at the heel, before the forces are great enough to otherwise damage the knee. Such bindings are expected to reduce knee injuries by as much as 75%.
John Springer-Miller lives and works in Stowe, Vermont.