3 common shoulder injuries in skiing

shoulder injuries are common in skiing; they're often the unfortunate victim of a fall on the slopes. shoulders can be stubborn, so understanding how to manage them is key.

person in red jacket and blue pants skiingRegardless of how skilled you are on the slopes, it’s always likely that you’ll suffer a few falls when you’re sliding down a mountain on a slippery surface. Falls are the most common cause of injury to the shoulder when skiing or snowboarding, accounting for more than 90% of all shoulder injuries. Other causes collisions with other skiers and trees, but we’ll leave that for another day. 


gray concrete horse figurine on white table

Now we know how the shoulder is injured in skiing, we’ll move on to the kind of injuries we can see. Many structures can be irritated after a fall, and it’s likely that more than one area can suffer the consequences. Here’s a breakdown of some of the more likely candidates.  





Rotator Cuff

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The Rotator Cuff is a group of four muscles that wraps around the shoulder like a blanket. They help to keep your shoulder stable, often working together during movement of the arm. If we land with our arm away from our body, it’s possible that these muscles could be injured.  Injuries can vary from muscle strains and irritation, to complete tears. 

Fall on ShoulderShoulder Dislocations

Dislocations can happen in various positions, and factors like previous injury and genetics can make them more likely. However, if you fall onto your arm, particularly when it’s outstretched, the force can be enough to push the joint out of position, causing a dislocation. 

In some cases, this is only momentary, and the shoulder relocates. This is know as a subluxation. 

In less fortunate circumstances, the shoulder remains out of place and would need to be relocated by a medic. 

Dislocations often lead to secondary injuries, often involving the structures that normally hold the shoulder in its position. If you’re unlucky enough to have a shoulder dislocation, it’s important to get it checked out to avoid further complications.

AC Joint InjuryAcromioclavicular Joint (ACJ) Injuries

The Acromioclavicular joint sits at the end of your collarbone, just before the point of the shoulder. It’s held together by some strong ligaments and connective tissue. In some people, it looks like a small bump on top of the shoulder.

ACJ injuries typically happen when you fall onto the point of the shoulder. They can range from sprain injuries, which may recover fairly quickly, to complete disruptions of the joint. In more severe cases, the disruption can cause the shoulder to ‘drop’, which gives the appearance that the collarbone is sticking up from the shoulder. 

Less severe injuries can be improve with time and rehabilitation, whereas more severe injuries may need the opinion of a surgeon. In the early stages after injury, the priority is to protect the joint and let it settle. 


So, can we do anything about shoulder injuries in skiing?

As we’ve discussed, many injuries that we see are the result of a fall on the slopes. Unfortunately, we can’t make you any more competent at skiing! So, we’ll have to put you back into the hands of professional coaches to make improvements there.

However – as with any sport – we can make ourselves more robust, better co-ordinated and more confident in our movement by preparing our conditioning our bodies to handle the demands. 

Access to ski facilities may be limited through the year, so we can compromise by targetting specific areas of our body in the gym. This is something that we covered in our previous article about common skiing injuries.  


If you are looking for a pre-ski programme we are happy to help. Everyone at Summit wants to see our clients enjoy their holiday and ski with confidence. So if you are suffering from an injury and want it sorted before you go, or want to be proactive and become better prepared, then call us on  0800 731 2738 or book online here. 

If you are looking for ideas and tips to stay fit over the ski season, make sure you follow our Facebook and Instagram pages. 

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