The Advancements in Ski Equipment

            Over the last couple of decades, the popularity of alpine skiing has dramatically risen with approximately 200 million people skiing worldwide. Unfortunately, along with several other sports, alpine skiing has an inherent risk of injury (Natri, Beynnon, Ettlinger, Johnson & Shealy, 1999). Through the use of epidemiological research, it is possible to identify the causes of injuries in alpine skiing and educate others. With this knowledge, practitioners in this sporting field are becoming aware of many of the predisposing factors and preventative measures of injury such as using proper technique programs and equipment. As a result, the incidence of injuries in alpine skiing has decreased.

             Injury rates and patterns of alpine skiers have been studied at great length since the early 1940's. The overall incidences involving ski injuries have steadily decreased from 5 to 8 injuries per 1000 skier days before the 1970's to between 2 and 3 injuries per 1000 skier days in the late 1980's and early 1990's (Johnson, Ettlinger & Shealy, 1997). Injuries that most commonly occurred during the 1940's and 1950's to the lower extremities such as ankle sprains (28%), ankle fractures (11%) and spiral tibial fractures (2.8%) have declined by 87% (Natri et al., 1999). The main reason for the overall reduction of these injuries was the advancements in ski equipment (i.e.: the binding release and support system) that was developed during the early 1980's. The improvement in the technology has resulted in the incidence of ankle injuries and tibia fractures being reduced and being maintained at that level (Natri et al., 1999). .

             At the same time, there are certain types of skiing injuries that have not reported a reduction but rather an increase. Since the early 1980's, severe Grade III knee sprains have increased at an alarming rate and this trend continues today (Johnson & Pope, 1991). The knee has been reported as the most common site of injury, accounting for 20-27% of all skiing injuries (Davidson & Laliotis, 1996).

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