Skiing Injuries

Written by Tele Demetrious, Physiotherapist, BPhysio(Hons)
Reviewed by Brett Harrop, APA Sports Physiotherapist, BPhysio(Hons), MPhysio(Sports Physio)

Diagnosis > Sports Injuries > Skiing Injuries

Most skiing injuries occur traumatically, usually from a fall or due to a collision with another skier or stationary object. Traumatic skiing injuries often involve the knees, head and neck, shoulders, ankle, wrist or thumb. These injuries can include ligament sprains, joint sprains or dislocations, fractures or contusions, lacerations or concussion with some conditions being quite serious.

Skiing Injuries

Most Common Skiing Injuries

The following injuries are our Top 5 Most Common Skiing Injuries. To view our Top 15 Most Common Skiing Injuries, to aid with diagnosis, Become a Member.

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Most Common Skiing Injuries


MCL Tear

Tearing of the medial collateral ligament of the knee (MCL – Figure 1) typically following a valgus force (Figure 2) when changing direction on the slopes, due to a fall or following a sudden twisting movement. Often associated with a snap or tearing sensation at the time of injury, pain on firmly touching the MCL and often swelling. Occasionally associated with knee instability or giving way of the knee.

MCL Tear Anatomy

Figure 1 – Anatomy of a MCL Tear

Valgus Force for MCL Tear

Figure 2 – Valgus force (often involved in a MCL tear)


Adductor Strain

Tearing of the adductor muscle (figure 3), typically following uncontrolled separation of the two skis or change-of-direction movements. Associated with pain on firmly touching the affected region and localised, one-sided groin pain, often aggravated by stretching the affected muscle (figure 4).

Groin Strain Anatomy

Figure 3 – Groin Strain Anatomy (Adductors)

Groin Stretch (Adductor)

Figure 4 – Groin Stretch

Head & Neck


An acceleration / deceleration injury of the neck typically occurring as a result of a collision or fall whereby the neck is forcefully thrown forwards, then backwards. Muscle spasm, restricted movement and tenderness on firmly touching the affected levels of the spine are usually present. Pain may be felt in the neck with or without symptoms radiating into the upper back, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist or hand or headache. Occasionally pins and needles, numbness or weakness may be present in the affected arm or hand.


AC Joint Sprain

Tearing of the connective tissue and ligaments of the Acromio-Clavicular joint (AC Joint – figures 5 & 6) typically as a result of a direct impact to the point of the shoulder during a fall or a collision. Causes pain at the top of the shoulder that may increase when lying on the affected side, moving the arm across the body and during certain other shoulder movements. There is also localised tenderness on firmly touching the AC joint (figures 5 & 6) and sometimes a noticeable step deformity.

Anatomy of an AC Joint Sprain

Figure 5 – AC Joint Sprain Anatomy

AC Joint Sprain Anatomy

Figure 6 – AC Joint Anatomy

Wrist & Hand

Skier’s Thumb

Tearing of connective tissue and / or ligaments holding the bones of the thumb together typically following excessive stretching of the joint in one direction (usually from the ski pole getting caught in the snow during a fall and forcing the thumb backwards). Associated with pain on firmly touching the affected joint, restricted joint mobility and often swelling.

More Most Common Skiing Injuries

To view more of the Most Common Skiing Injuries to the Knee, Head & Neck, Shoulder and Wrist & Hand, to aid with diagnosis, Become a Member.

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Contributing Factors to Skiing Injuries Contributing Factors to Skiing Injuries

A number of factors may contribute to the incidence or development of skiing related injuries, including:

  • Inexperience
  • Inappropriate warm up or cool down
  • A lack of fitness or conditioning
  • Muscle weakness (particularly the gluteals, adductors, quadriceps and core stabilisers)
  • Excessive training
  • Poor technique
  • Inadequate recovery between sessions
  • Poor flexibility (particularly in the adductors, hamstrings and gluteals)
  • Tightness in specific joints (such as the hips)

    More Contributing Factors

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    Injury Prevention Tips for Skiing Injuries Injury Prevention Tips for Skiers

    • Warm Up & Cool Down properly
    • Make sure you are ‘Fit to Ski’ (check out our Core, Gluteal, Quads & Balance Exercises)
    • Maintain a healthy body weight to minimise the load on your knees
    • Take a lesson to improve your technique
    • Ski to your own ability level and on appropriate terrain for your level of experience
    • Ski appropriately to the conditions

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