• Health & Wellness

    How to Tear Up the Slopes Without Tearing Up Your Knees

Whether you're a black-diamond skier or a novice on the bunny slope your day can be spoiled by an injury that happens on the last run of the day.  End-of-the-day tweaks and spills are more common than you’d think, says physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Ed Laskowski, M.D., of Mayo Clinic. Muscle fatigue at the end of the day can lead to sloppy technique and injuries such as a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee, which can require surgery and intensive rehabilitation. Dr. Laskowski, a former elite skier who turned his career to medicine, says that recreational skiers can take steps to optimize their protection from injury.

Physical preparation before a big ski weekend can go a long way, according to Dr. Laskowski, who specializes in fitness, wellness, strength-and-stability training, and sports injury prevention strategies. To gear up for a ski holiday, people can do conditioning exercises that make the sport safer: 

  • Endurance exercises, especially with an aerobic component, can help train the muscles so fatigue doesn’t lead to injury at the end of an 8 hour ski day.
  • Strength training that focuses on the major muscle groups in the legs, especially those used in skiing, can help skiers stabilize and control their bodies. Core exercises to help link upper and lower body movements are also important, as are balance exercises that emphasize stability.
  • “Ski specific” exercises can help train for the side-to-side motions required by the sport. One simple but effective exercise to prepare for skiing is to practice jumping from side to side over a line of tape on the floor, using both feet and then using one foot at a time.

Dr. Laskowski specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and serves as co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. A former competitive alpine skier, he served on the Olympic Polyclinic Medical Staff for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Laskowski to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Laskowski, contact Bryan Anderson (507) 284-5005 or newsbureau@mayo.edu.

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