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Preventing knee injuries while skiing

From The Providence Journal

The International Society for Skiing Safety says in recent years there has been a "significant increase" in severe knee ligament sprains, particularly to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a major connector in the knee joint. Various estimates say knee injuries account for between 25 percent and 40 percent of all skiing injuries.

As technology improved skis and boots, people stopped breaking their legs, according to Dr. Robert Shalvoy, an orthopedic surgeon at Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I. But the force of a fall has to go somewhere, he says.

"Some people who just get caught up in a turn can have a knee tear as opposed to having a Wide World of Sports injury," he says.

Dr. Bruce Becker, an emergency room doctor at Rhode Island Hospital, suggests strengthening and stretching legs with something like yoga for a month before skiing to prevent knee injuries.

"If you're not an experienced athlete and you ski once a year, you're putting yourself at high risk for injury, especially knee injury," he says.

Dr. Robert Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon who teaches at the University of Vermont medical center, says exercising won't help as much as learning to fall correctly. His tips include:

- Don't fully straighten your legs when you fall.

- Keep your knees flexed.

- Don't try to get up until you've stopped sliding.

- Keep your arms up and forward.

- Don't jump unless you know where and how to land.

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