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Is it safe to ski after an injury, or while being pregnant?


Disclaimer: The content in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice nor is it intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. You should never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The owner of Sloperunner.com can not be held responsible for any injuries you may sustain.

Downhill skiing is not without its dangers. You’re definitely going to fall, and you might even have a collision with another skier.

Skiing can also be quite fatiguing, and it puts a lot of stress on your body.

If your body is under a lot of stress like it is if you’ve undergone surgery, then you need to think twice before you head for the slopes.

It could also be, that you’re pregnant which also puts the body under a lot of stress. If so you also need to take extra precautions. Oh, and congratulations by the way 🙂

I’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions I see online when people ask for advice on skiing after having suffered from an injury or have gone through surgery. The injuries are not necessarily sustained from skiing. 

I’m not a doctor so in order to provide good solid information on these questions, I reached out to some of the best experts in the relevant fields of medical expertise.

When can I ski after surgery?

In order to provide information on skiing after surgery, I reached out to ONS (Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists), who has offices in Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut, and Harrison, New York. The doctors at ONS are experts in the fields of sports medicine, as well as orthopedic and neurosurgery specialists.

Dr. Katherine Vadasdi, who is the director of the ONS Women’s Sports Center, an elbow, knee & shoulder surgeon, and an avid skier, was kind enough to answer my questions:

Q: How long does it take to recover from an ORIF surgery? When is it safe to return to skiing?

A: ORIF is any open repair of a fracture. Generally, it takes on average 12 weeks to recover from an ORIF and return to a full contact or a high-risk sport like skiing.

Q: Is it possible to ski again after having back surgery? How long is the recovery before it is possible?

A: Depending on the type of surgery, it can be perfectly fine to return to skiing once fully the patient has fully recovered.

It is important to get clearance from your physician before you return to the sport after any injury or surgical procedure.

Q: Is it possible to ski after knee replacement (partial and total)? When?

A: Again, if the physician approves and the healing and rehabilitation have gone according to plan, knee replacement patients can expect to return to skiing after about 3 months.

Q: Can I ski after ACL surgery? When?

A: In most cases, a skier can return to the slopes after ACL surgery, however, it may not be until 9-12 months post operation.

It is important to undergo physical therapy to regain proper movement and strengthen the surrounding muscles that support the knee.

Q: Can I ski after meniscus surgery? When?

A: After meniscectomy (trimming). Recovery from a meniscectomy is usually 4-6 weeks. A full repair will take longer, about 3-4 months.

As with recovering from an ACL repair, recovery should include therapeutic exercises for strength, mobility, and flexibility.

Q: Can I ski after ankle surgery (e.g. ankle fusion)? When?

A: A person may not be able to ski after ankle fusion surgery because it can be difficult to get boots to fit properly. If the boot issue can be resolved, then the skier should be good to go in about 6 months.

Other ankle surgeries such as an ORIF or arthroscopy may be 3-4 months. Recovering from an Achilles tendon repair is usually 6 months.

Again, it is best to consult with your physician before you take to the slopes.

Can I ski when pregnant?

As mentioned in the beginning, I also often see questions about skiing and pregnancy.

So I reached out to Dr. Raul Artal-Mittelmark, M.D., who is the professor and chairman emeritus at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at Saint Louis University.

Dr. Raul Artal-Mittelmark has also helped develop The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidance on exercise during pregnancy and postpartum.

Q: Can I go skiing when pregnant?

A: Can I go skiing when pregnant?

The short answer is YES, although the risks for injury is higher in pregnancy [due to]:

  • laxity of joints and ligaments
  • lordosis and continuous change in point of gravity
  • progressive protrusion of abdomen (uterus)
  • falling can result in significant trauma to the abdomen, uterus, and fetus

Q: For how long can I go skiing if I’m pregnant? E.g., can I ski if I’m 4 weeks pregnant? Can I ski if I’m 8 weeks in, etc.?

A: Just as for non pregnant subjects (men or women) skiing could result in injuries.

Leisure skiing and careful skiing are certainly acceptable (the first trimester up to 10-12 weeks should be relatively safe).

Further reading

If you’re interested in articles on common injuries sustained from skiing – and how to prevent them for happening in the first place, here are some good links:

A Conversation with Orthopedic Surgeon Tim Greene, MD about skiing and snowboarding injuries

Mayo Clinic Minute: Stay safe on ski slopes

Exercise During Pregnancy: Safe And Beneficial

Blogpost with women who share their experience with skiing during pregnancy: Skiing During Pregnancy? Yes or No?

I hope you find this article helpful. Do you have any experience for skiing after surgery or while being pregnant? Feel free to share in the comments.

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