As U.S. athletes hit the slopes during the Olympic Games, two doctors with MMP – Orthopedics & Sports Medicine will be watching very closely.
F. Lincoln Avery, M.D., has been traveling with the U.S. Alpine Men’s and Women’s Ski Teams to World Cup events since 1989. Krystian Bigosinski, M.D., meanwhile, just returned from working with the U.S. Cross-Country Team in at the World Cup in Austria at the beginning of the month.
Dr. Avery’s interest in working with the U.S. team came naturally — he was a college downhill ski racer. When he knew he wanted to work in sports medicine, getting started with the U.S. team made a lot of sense.
“There weren’t a lot of physicians from the ski racing community covering World Cup athletes back then,” Dr. Avery said.
Over the years, he’s worked with top athletes, including gold medalists Picabo Street and Lindsey Vonn.
“Sitting down, having dinner with them, you get to know them as real people,” said Dr. Avery. “When you see them at the Olympics, it’s surreal.”
Dr. Bigosinski comes from an endurance sport background and is an avid skier, so developing a relationship with the cross-country ski team was a natural fit. Five years later, he’s glad he did.
“The skiers are very welcoming and glad to have medical staff there,” he said.
Top athletes aren’t the only ones who need to take care of their bodies this ski season, of course. Drs. Avery and Bigoskinski have some tips on staying healthy and on knowing when to see a doctor.
- Cross train in the off-season with strength training. This will protect your joints once winter rolls around. Strengthening your hips, core, back and shoulders in the off-season will help prevent injury and allow you to ski for longer periods with less soreness.
- Balance is critical in cross-country skiing. Balance and agility training both on and off the skis is really important. Exercises using a balance ball or single-legged exercises are great for this.
- Get a lesson from a pro. Cross-country skiing is a lot more than just walking on skis. Taking a lesson or two to get started will not only help you start enjoying the sport, it may prevent bad technique that could lead to injuries.
ACL tears are the most common serious injury to the knee that occur as a result of downhill skiing. As these are “normal loads that are applied to the knee abnormally,” most ski bindings will not release in the event of an ACL-tearing fall.
- Don’t fight the fall. Often it is trying to avoid falling that leads to the abnormal body position that sets up this injury.
- Don’t fall backwards or “in the rear seat” with the weight far to the rear. Falling and sitting on the back of your skis will likely injure your knee.
- Don’t try to dig a ski edge in to stop yourself during a fall unless a serious collision is imminent. Relax and keep your knees bent as you slide, trying not to get up until you stop moving.
- Ski with your arms forward, as your body weight tends to move to where your hands are.
- Try to keep your weight evenly balanced on both skis, avoiding a wide ski stance.
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