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Ski Injuries and Medical Massage Therapy

Winter sports are a big part of our culture here in Colorado! We love to ski and snowboard, as well as participating in many other winter sports. Since these sports are such a huge component of life where we live and in all snowy areas across the country, it is important to address the benefits of Medical Massage Therapy in treating injuries that have happened due to participation in Skiing and Snowboarding.

If you want to stay injury-free while enjoying long days out on the slopes this ski season, consider massage therapy. Massage can be a great solution for your aching muscles after a hard day of skiing, and can improve your athletic performance as well. One huge benefit of massage, also, is to assist in your healthy recovery if you are injured.

We are focusing on injuries that are most common to skiers, however, it is important to note that these injuries can occur during any sport and also many normal daily activities. Medical Massage Therapy is helpful in the recovery of these injuries, but is also beneficial in helping to prevent injuries, as we will discuss below. To learn more about Medical Massage, in general, or to learn about insurance coverage regarding massage, check out our blog on Medical Massage Therapy here.

There are a few common injuries that occur in skiers, and they include knee sprains, ACL injuries, ankle sprains, and foot pain. These are not all of the injuries that can occur as a result of participating in winter sports, however, all of these injuries can benefit from Medical Massage. Here is a breakdown of these specific injuries:

Knee Sprains

Knee sprains are, hands down, the most common skiing injury, accounting for about 35% of all injuries suffered by skiers. Knee sprains happen when a ligament around the knee joint is injured by tearing or by stretching the ligament too far. There are many ways that this injury can be caused.

Too much strain on the knee in any direction can cause a knee sprain. Bending of the knee in the opposite direction from its normal bending is the most basic way to describe this, however, injuring the knee can be complex, and which direction you have pushed your joint to far determines which ligaments are injured.

It is more common to push the knee joint too far to the outside, however, an injury in any direction is going to cause pain. It is important to let your Medical Massage Therapist know how you hurt your knee when you go in for your Massage. This will allow the Medical Massage Therapist to assist you in the best possible way.

ACL Injuries

ACL Injuries are common in skiing. When a skier falls and one of the knees, or both knees, twist while the foot remains planted on the ski, the skier will most likely suffer an ACL rupture.

The ACL or anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four important ligaments holding the knee joint together. The ACL can tear when a skier lands on a bent knee then twists it, or it can be injured by landing on an overextended knee. A popping sound is sometimes heard. It feels like the knee just ‘gave out’. This sensation is caused because the ACL has given out and is not performing its job of holding the knee joint stable anymore.

An ACL tear is serious, and may or may not need surgical intervention for recovery. It is also one of the most prevalent skiing injuries to the knee. This is due to the feet being bound to long thin skies that are independent from each other. The risk of one ski getting caught while the other continues on its course is very high. Other ligament sprains often occur as well, but the ACL rupture is the most common and the most severe.

Instability of the knee from such an occurrence happens often, and the duration of symptoms from this injury is usually determined by the severity of the tear. It is just about impossible to prevent yourself from falling when on the slopes, and every time you fall, you run the risk of injuring your ACL. There are measures you can take to reduce your risk of injury, such as utilizing Medical Massage Therapy or Sports Massage Therapy on a regular basis and strengthening the muscles in your legs year round. To read more about Sports Massage Therapy at Healing Solutions Inc, visit our blog here.

Ankle Sprains

There are a number of variables that can cause an ankle sprain while you are skiing, from wrong boots and bindings to overuse of the ligament and, of course, falling. An ankle injury can occur from a bad landing after a jump when excessive pressure and inversion is applied to the cluster of small bones in the foot and the ankle joint.

To prevent ankle injuries, make sure the ankle does not move in the boot. Your boot should fit snug almost tight. Soft boots increase maneuvering capacity as well as risks of injury. Hard boots provide enhanced ankle support. Hybrid boots are becoming very popular for the advantage of reducing the risks of injury while offering certain flexibility.

When an ankle injury happens, it's important to reduce the swelling and compress the injury. Once inflammation has subsided, using an ankle support, doing ankle exercises, and getting in to see your Medical Massage Therapist can help speed up recovery.

Foot Pain

The foot pain that skiers experience is most often caused by the overuse of small muscles in the bottom of the foot. These muscles are called intrinsic muscles. This type of foot pain is most commonly experienced by people who have flat feet, but can also be caused by anyone with weak intrinsic foot muscles or ill fitting ski boots.

Skiing requires stability to transfer force effectively from the boot to the edge of the ski to turn the ski. When the intrinsic muscles of the foot are weakened or unable to perform properly due to an incorrect boot fit, the skier is unable to properly stabilize the foot, and they will eventually run out of adequate blood flow to support their activity. This causes searing pain in the arch of the foot.

Here are three things that might also be causing the pain.

  1. Tight Fitting Boots: This is one of the most common causes of pain when it comes to skiing. If your ski boots are too tight, you might feel a burning sensation or ache across and around your entire forefoot area which sometimes leads to numbness.

  2. Inflexibility: Our feet have a natural tendency to change shape and alignment depending on our movements. When skiing, as you place your foot down, it adapts to the terrain by collapsing and acting as a shock absorber, so it has a tendency to become wider and longer. Since the ski boot is rigid and does not flex, your foot’s movement in the boot is not comfortable and this can cause pain.

  3. Uneven Pressure Distribution: If the pressure distribution on your foot is poor, it will cause a burning sensation and sometimes lead to bruises and soreness.

We all know that a week spent happily shredding fresh powder comes with its own set of aches and pains. You may think that this is just soreness from not using some of the muscles necessary to ski, and that may be, but this soreness can mean something more. Sometimes ignoring those pains for too long can lead to more serious injuries. It is important to stop pain in the early stages to prevent it from becoming a bigger problem, and massage can help you do just that.

Anything you can do to prevent an injury like the ones we discussed above is recommended. Preventing an injury from occurring in the first place is much less painful and time consuming than recovering from a severe injury.

Injury Prevention for Skiers

There are a variety of ways to prevent injuries on the slopes. Enhancing your fitness level in the off season will help with flexibility, strength, and balance. The less prone you are to fall, the less chance you will have an injury. Increasing your flexibility, which, by the way, Massage Therapy also helps with, increasing strength, and increasing balance, will all make you less prone to fall.

Regardless of how hard you work in the off season, you are still likely to be sore and have aches from the physical rigor of a hard day of skiing. There are a few things you can do to speed up your recovery and assist you for the rest of the season.

Benefits of Massage for Skiers

Massage therapy has a long list of benefits for skiers who want to recuperate quickly so they can get back out and perform their best. In fact, participating in regular Massage Therapy throughout the season could be just the tune-up that your body needs to run at its optimal level. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, research shows that massage therapy can:

Reduce muscle tension

Sports Injury Massage reduces muscle tension by working on adhesions in the muscles that may feel like knots or guitar strings. Knots are balls of fiber that need to be smoothed out. Guitar strings need to be flattened out so they are smooth and flow with the other muscles. This is working on a specific muscle to help it work better with the rest of the muscle group.

Increase range of motion

When you relax all of the muscles that move your shoulder, you are able to move it further than before. This is the case with any joint in the human body. This is more about focusing on a group of muscles to work better together, rather than a specific muscle. It is the whole group, all of the muscles around a joint, that allow it to move to its fullest ability. This is what would increase flexibility. Passive stretching is a great addition to Sports Injury Massage, as both can help increase range of motion.

Enhance athletic performance

When an athlete has full range of motion and relaxed muscles they are able to run longer, throw better, and keep this up for a longer amount of time without fatigue, strain or injury. Think of it like a spaghetti noodle. If the noodle is dry it will break easier. If the noodle is wet (has blood flow), then the noodle moves easier and risk of injury is decreased.

Improve soft tissue function

Ease of movement is important in soft tissue function, and that is what Sports Injury Massage is useful in improving. Blood flow is also important in how soft tissue functions. The Massage Therapist applies pressure in a way that causes blood to flow. This allows muscles to become warmer. By stretching the tissues and working out adhesions Sports Massage Therapists flush out swelling in joints and allow soft tissue function to return to normal as a result.

Decrease muscle stiffness and fatigue

Sports Injury Massage keeps muscles from locking up after extended use. Cramping is a major issue in every athletic endeavor. Cramps effectively stop the ability of the muscle to work properly. Sports Injury Massage increases blood flow, thereby increasing the amount of oxygen that is delivered. This decreases fatigue and enhances muscle recovery. Sports Injury Massage’s ability to increase blood flow to the area also keeps inflammation down so muscles can recover faster.

Decreasing Inflammation

Properly trained massage therapists are able to assist in the recovery of sports injuries by helping reduce the amount of inflammation that is present in certain injuries. Massage increases blood flow and moves swelling out of the injured area. It increases absorption of swelling in the area, and excess fluids are reduced as a result. Reduction of swelling also helps with pain reduction.

Decreasing Scar Tissue

Reducing swelling allows the Sports Injury Massage therapist to get in deeper as well. This means scar tissue can be reached and broken up. Increased blood flow and swelling promote healing, and the addition of pliable scar tissue help immensely. Regaining of feeling and lessening of tingling and soreness are a result of causing scar tissue to break up or become more pliable.

Improved Mobility

As a result of scar tissue work and reduction of swelling, mobility is improved in a Sports Injury Massage as well. If there is nothing stopping the joint from being flexible, which scar tissue and swelling both do, the range of motion becomes greatly improved

At Healing Solutions Inc, our Medical Massage Therapists are trained specifically to help you with injury prevention and recovery of injuries. We will do everything we can to help you live a life free of pain. To book your next massage, visit us in Broomfield, CO or Boulder, CO!


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