Fat skis, bad knees?

neil maclean-martinDuring our presentation at Listex in London, Neil mentioned a type of injury he increasingly sees at his clinic which he referred to as “Fat skis, bad knees”. I took the opportunity to chat with Neil last week about this issue and explore the recommendations he could offer for skiers starting to use the fatter modern skis, particularly because I am using a fatter ski this season for the first time.

Hi Neil, when we were at Listex last week I heard you describe an issue you have identified with skiing injuries which you called “Fat skis bad knees”. What did you mean by that?

With the tracking that we do at the clinic of the injuries we see, talking to our clients about the equipment they are using and the type of skiing that they are doing, we are seeing that changes in equipment with wider skis and nose and tail rockers are encouraging skiers to access the back country and more challenging terrain without the levels of experience, skill and physical ability required in the past. As the equipment is more forgiving of poor technique we are seeing more skiers becoming injured because they lose their balance at low speeds or even when stationary. In these circumstances their bindings are much less likely to release. These fat skis with their greater length and width increase the torque on the knees in these low speed twisting falls often leading to ligament and meniscus injuries, some of which can be severe.

So based on this what would you recommend skiers starting to use wider equipment should be doing?

First of all ski lessons are a great thing.  Good ski technique is essential ensuring you have good balance over your skis which will mean you are much less likely to have those falls where injuries can occur. Secondly make sure you are fit and well conditioned so you are strong and don’t become too tired so you don’t lose your balance because of that fatigue.

These new skis are great fun and you learn to ski off-piste much more quickly, however take the time to progress and build up your experience, technique and strength. Finally if you do feel yourself getting fatigued towards the end of the day, try to avoid that one more run syndrome which does account for a lot of knee injuries.

Thanks Neil this is great advice! I knew I would benefit from lessons but I think you have just convinced me to book some.

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Tony Lowe