Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
You put a lot into planning your next ski vacation: buying passes, booking flights, reserving rooms, memorizing can’t-miss runs, checking the snow report. Don’t let it all go to waste by getting hurt on the hill.
Avoiding injury on the slopes requires more than being aware and capable on the mountain. It requires thoughtful preparation. In fact, as Director of Human Performance at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail John Cole explains, you can directly control non-variable risks. These factors include ski-specific fitness, nutrition and lifestyle choices, and properly fitting and functioning equipment.
Here are five ways to prevent a ski injury—and a subsequent week-long drowning of your sorrows in the lodge—from Cole, instructor of SKI Magazine’s Ski Injury Prevention course.
Start with Fitness
If you want to ski bell-to-bell, it’s best to head into ski season in good shape. Strong skiers train for strength, power, balance, and mobility. Don’t forget your core. (Sorry, but 3,000 deep knee bends don’t count.)
Air travel, altitude, après—all can suck you dry. Stay hydrated by carrying a reusable water bottle and sipping to thirst during the day.
Shop on Amazon: Hydrapak Collapsible Waterbottle
Sleep is the best performance-enhancer. It will allow your body to adapt to training stress, recover from big days, and keep you alert for what’s to come.
Know Your Limits
Everyone’s limits are different. (And physical limits can vary from day-to-day.) What are your physical and mental boundaries? Are you recovering from a previous injury and feeling sore? Or fit, risk-tolerant, and ready to rip? Assess your fitness, skill level, and risk aversion before you click in.
Double Check Those Bindings
To make sure your bindings are set to operate safely, take them to a ski shop tech. They will ensure the correct DIN setting—based on your weight, height, skiing ability, and boot sole length—which determines the force required to release from your bindings.
Related: All about DIN
To learn more about how to prevent ski injuries and prep the body for a long ski season, register for SKI Magazine’s Ski Injury Prevention online course, which includes expert insight and a comprehensive plan for getting the most out of any ski trip.