The one area many overlook when planning to get ‘ski fit’ is the ankles. The larger muscles and joints get this focus but the ankles are just as important!

The ski season is upon us and I am sure many of you reading this will have enjoyed the thrill and rush skiing, or snow boarding, can bring. The sport is not without its dangers though so it is important to take care, prepare and have an understanding of what to do if things go wrong. The one area many overlook when planning to get ‘ski fit’ is the ankles. The larger muscles and joints get this focus but the ankles are just as important!

Ankle injuries associated with Skiing

Although your ankles are heavily protected in your boots, ankle injuries can still occur.  This is due to the amount of strain put on the ankles when turning. The more experienced skiers will know of the strain the ankles go through and many of you will have experienced these injuries yourself.

It is important to understand which injury you have sustained so you can take the correct immediate course of action before obtaining a diagnosis and treatment plan from a professional therapist.

Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain can occur when twisting sharply inwards or outwards, in most cases this happens when skiing off the path into deeper snow, wearing badly fitted boots or not properly fastening your boots.

Common Symptoms

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Pain on weight-bearing and in more severe cases an inability to  weight bear.
  • The ankle being tender to touch
  • A feeling of instability in the ankle
  • A restricted range of movement in the ankle

Action

The best course of action to take when you believe you have sprained your ankle is to rest it for a couple of days, apply ice and keep the ankle moving up/ down/ in and out.

Then seek professional advice from a Physiotherapist/ Sports Therapist or Osteopath who can guide you through a rehabilitation programme so you make a full recovery.

Boot Top Fracture

This fracture can happen when extreme trauma occurs in the ankle. This could be attempting a jump and landing poorly, or any time when extreme forces are exerted on the two bones that connect to the ankle.

A top boot fracture is one of the most severe ski injuries, occurring when the two bones in the lower leg break at the very top of the boot. The bones are the tibia (shinbone) and the fibula (calf bone); because they are so close together, the stiff top of the ski boot makes them vulnerable so they tend to break together when force is applied.

Common Symptoms

  • A much more severe pain than the sprain
  • Swelling and bruising in the lower leg
  • Inability to weight bear
  • Some deformity surrounding the ankle
  • Numbness in the foot

Action

If you believe you have a boot top fracture, do not try to remove your ski boot. You will need to be assessed at a hospital.

Once out of the cast, your ankle will be need a strengthening and stability programme and we advise you seek professional advice from a Physiotherapist/ Osteopath or Sports Therapist to support you with this.

Achilles Tendinopathy

As cross-country skiing is becoming far more common, an Achilles tendinopathy is something to be aware of.

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel, this tendon allows for movement to occur in the ankle such as the bending and pushing off required to ski.

Tendinopathy often starts because of an increase in activity at a joint. Cross country skiing puts a lot more strain on the legs as you traverse hills walking with the skis on. So, this may cause the tendon to become irritated due to overuse.

Common Symptoms

  • A gradual onset of pain
  • Pain located over the Achilles, with pain and stiffness present during the first few steps after rest (which is often worse in the morning)
  • Some swelling may occur
  • The tendon may be tender to touch

Action

The best cause of action with a Tendinopathy is to rest from the activities that increase your pain.  The Achilles tendon will need to be strengthened so that it can cope with the activities you want it to do and we recommend you seek professional advice from a Physiotherapist/ Sports Therapist or Osteopath who can guide you through a rehabilitation programme and help support you with a gradual build-up of your activity levels.

Once out of the cast, your ankle will be need a strengthening and stability programme and we advise you seek professional advice from a Physiotherapist/ Osteopath or Sports Therapist to support you with this.

Achilles Tendon Tear/Rupture

The Achilles tendon allows for bending and pushing off that skiing requires, however there are times when this tendon can be overstretched beyond its limit or suddenly subjected to too much force.

In extreme moments this can cause the Achilles tendon to tear or rupture.

The achilles tendon typically tears due to weakness or overuse. This is because skiers usually focus their pre-season conditioning on the core, hips and legs.

Common Symptoms

  • Difficulty walking
  • A popping sound when the rupture occurs
  • Sudden pain in the back of the ankle and lower leg
  • Swelling or bruising in the back of the ankle
  • An inability to ‘push off’ the injured side

Action

Whether or not an Achilles tendon rupture requires surgery depends on the severity of the tear. A  mild sprain or partial tear can feel similar or a sprained ankle and responds well to rehab treatment.

If you believe you have ruptured or torn your Achilles tendon your best course of action is to go to a hospital for investigation.  If a tear is confirmed, you may need to wear a boot for several weeks and then you will need a strengthening and stability programme and we advise you seek professional advice from a Physiotherapist/ Osteopath or Sports Therapist to support you with this.

If you prefer Pre-hab to Re-hab and would like to know how you can train to try and prevent some skiing injuries, please look at the instagram post from our Sports Therapist, Jack Price, or contact us for your personal programme.

Once out of the cast, your ankle will be need a strengthening and stability programme and we advise you seek professional advice from a Physiotherapist/ Osteopath or Sports Therapist to support you with this.

Helping you live your healthiest and happiest life. Revival Health & Wellbeing Centre offers a variety of treatments, clinics, counselling and holistic therapies from our specialist team of practitioners.

Please contact us on 01386 792 126 to discuss your consultation.