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Stay Safe on the Slopes:
Learn how to fall when Skiing

22 DEC 2014 - BY JOSEPH TYSON

When you are travelling at speeds upwards from 15 mph, any fall you suffer is likely to be quick. However, there are a few measures you can take to minimise the chance of getting hurt before and after your landing.

There are also certain precautions that need to be taken with regards to your actual gear as any ill-prepared equipment can cause injury during even the most innocuous of falls.

Staying safe on the slopes is the best way to ensure you have a good time while you are out there. After all, you want to ski down the mountain, not fly down in an air ambulance.

Before you head off on your ski holiday, take a look at our guide about falls and skiing.

Relax your body

Easier said than done when you're falling, but trying to relax your body is an excellent way to avoid injury.

Staying calm allows your body to keep its natural shape as when you tense up your muscles in this situation, you are likely to hurt yourself more. Rigid extremities and ligaments can be damaged if held in a stiff position.

Roll into the fall

It is human instinct to stick out your arms when you fall. However, this is more likely increase the chance of breaking your wrist or collarbone than your fall. Try and resist the urge to put out your upper extremities and instead attempt to roll into the fall.

The idea with this technique is that the impact is distributed across your body and therefore absorbed better. Taking the impact with your hip and shoulder is a much better idea.

ski roll into fall

Have your binding checked by a pro

At least once a season, you should have your ski binding checked out properly. For novices, ski binding is the apparatus that connects the ski to the boot. Although it is the binding's job to keep you firmly attached to your ski so you can manoeuvre through the snow effectively, at certain angles and pressures (like when you take a fall) the mechanism should release to stop you from obtaining a serious leg injury.

If you have your own skis, get them checked. If you are renting, make sure you ask about this beforehand - all reputable ski-rental companies should be maintaining their gear to the highest standard. The binding should be adjusted to your specific height and weight. Make sure this is done before you head for the lift.

Ski Binding Checked by pro

Don't dig your skis in

If they do stay on during your fall, do not dig your skis into the snow to stop you. This is a very good way to hurt your knees and legs. The only time this is advisable is in an absolute emergency, if you are heading towards an obstacle (rocks or trees) or a steep drop, for example.

Point your feed downwards

If they do stay on during your fall, do not dig your skis into the snow to stop you. This is a very good way to hurt your knees and legs. The only time this is advisable is in an absolute emergency, if you are heading towards an obstacle (rocks or trees) or a steep drop, for example.

Point your feed downwards

Once you have fallen, it is likely that you will slide for some distance (how far depends on other factors such as your speed).

Pointing your feed downhill gives you slightly more control over the direction you slide, helping to protect the rest of your body.

Fall uphill

If you can, try to fall on the highest patch of snow or 'uphill' as it is known. The logic here is fairly simple: it is closer so you don't have as far to fall.

Don't fight the fall

Of course, if you are careering towards rocks or trees, and you feel yourself losing balance, you should attempt to stay on your feet and avoid the obstacle. However, generally speaking, if you feel yourself going in the middle of a run, fighting it can lead to a worse injury occurring.

Forget about looking stupid

Out on the slopes, everyone falls at some point. You can't look stupid while doing it. You can't look cool, either. When it happens, the only thing you should be thinking about is protecting yourself, not what anyone else thinks.

If you aren't focused when you take a tumble, you could end up hurting yourself more severely.

skier looking stupid

Accept the inevitable

Following on from the above, it is important that you accept the fact you will fall at some point. This is especially true if you are heading out on your first ski trip and are planning to take lessons while you are there.

Quit while you're ahead

Most ski falls and accidents occur when you are tired after a full day of skiing. Obviously, you want to get in as much time as you can while you are on holiday but do not push your body past its limit. Leave that last run for tomorrow, the mountain will still be there.

Further advice from across the internet

http://skiing.about.com/od/safetyforskiers/qt/falling.htm
http://www.skiing-without-fear.com/blog/14/overcoming-the-fear-of-falling-in-beginners
http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/skiing/How-to-Fall-Right.html
http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/ski_and_snowboard_safety_tips/

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