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Shoulder Injuries from Snowsports (Skiing and Snowboarding)

Skiing and snowboarding are both sports that put our upper limbs in harms way. It is instinctive for us to try and break any fall by using our arms. Of course, crashes can also project our shoulders and arms directly into the ground at considerable speed. Below are some common injuries that skiers and snowboarders sustain. More information on each injury is available in the conditions sections of this website.

Broken Clavicle (Collarbone)

Acromioclavicular joint dislocation

Shoulder Dislocation

SLAP tear (Superior Labrum tear)

Rotator Cuff Tear

Broken Shoulder (Proximal Humerus)

Can I prevent shoulder injuries whilst skiing/boarding?

Of course, most injuries occur during a fall or a collision. Experienced skiers will rarely fall when skiing within their limits.  If you are concerned about risking injury, consider moderating your speed and ski terrain to reduce your fall risk. 

Core stability, balance and endurance will also reduce your chances of falling and, if you do lose control, they will improve your chances of staying up.  Before you go on your skiing holiday you may wish to fine-tune your balance and improve your core stability and fitness.  Many gyms provide ski-fit classes that cater for this.  Your physio will also be happy to provide advice.

If you already have an injury or an unstable shoulder and wish to go skiing, then you may wish to wear a shoulder brace. Commercially available braces aim to achieve a reduced risk of dislocation by:

1. Improving your shoulder position awareness and muscle control

People with shoulder instability lose their joint position awareness. This means they are slow to engage corrective muscle actions to prevent dislocation.  A snugly-fitting neoprene brace, or taping can improve the feedback from your skin and help 'tell your brain where your shoulder is'.  This can help you control your shoulder. This is the same principle that ‘K-taping’ uses (the thick adhesive tape you may have seen strapped over athletes’ joints).

2. Limiting access to the ‘vulnerable shoulder position’ for dislocation

90% of shoulder dislocations come out forwards. The vulnerable position is with the arm raised away from your body and with your forearm pointing skywards. These braces restrict the forearm rotation and therefore claim to reduce the likelihood of a dislocation. Two example braces are shown below, but several companies offer similar products


If you have injured your shoulder whilst skiing or boarding, or if you have concerns about an upcoming trip, do get in touch.