Injury Busters

Want to avoid injury this season? Here are nine moves you need to know to stack the safety odds in your favor.
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Want to avoid injury this season? Here are nine moves you need to know to stack the safety odds in your favor.
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As a skier, risk-taking is in your genes—your fourth dopamine receptor gene, to be exact. That’s why even though alpine skiing comes with the chance of injury, you won’t be hocking your Atomics any time soon.

To continue getting your adrenaline fix without landing in a patrol toboggan, focus on total-body conditioning. “We are finely tuned marionette puppets: All the strings have to be in balance,” says Dr. James M. Fox, a Southern California-based orthopedic surgeon and author of Save Your Knees. “Abdominal muscles, back muscles, leg muscles—they all work together to prevent injury.”

Being fit helps you dodge injury in two ways. First, it helps you avoid falls—the culprit of up to 75 percent of ski injuries—by improving your balance, reducing fatigue and strengthening key muscles. Second, it can minimize damage when you do fall. “If you’ve got good muscle tone and flexibility, you might prevent a more severe injury because you can handle more load on a specific joint,” says Dr. Brian Halpern, a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and author of The Knee Crisis Handbook. Also, the better conditioned you are, the quicker your brain can signal your muscles to contract to protect a joint, he adds.

Statistically, your knees, shoulders and head are the most vulnerable parts of your body. Keep them safe with this three-tiered workout, which will make the risks you take a little less risky.

More Tips: Reform Your Ways
Despite what your childhood ski instructor told you, stretching right before you ski won't prevent injury. But being flexible will. To get - and stay - limber, try Pilates, which also boosts your core stability. Start with Pilates on the Go ($55), which includes a mat, resistance tubing, and a DVD. Too girly? Try Pilates for Men ($25), at pilates.com.

Click here to see the exercises step by step.

- SKI MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2008