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Skiing Myths and Truths: Click here to find them out

According to Sports Health magazine:

1. Myth: "Skiing is among the most dangerous activities."

Truth: Actually, the annual fatality rate per million hours of exposure (0.12) is between that of driving a car (0.30) and riding a bicycle (0.07).

2. Myth: "Broken legs have been traded for blown-out knees."

Truth: The increase in anterior cruciate ligament injuries came later than the decrease in lower-leg injuries. The two involve completely different mechanisms of injury.

3. Myth: "All you need know is your DIN (release indicator value) number and you can adjust your bindings."

Truth: Inspection and calibration of ski bindings is a complex process that requires specialized tools, equipment and trained technicians who set release settings according to height, weight, age and skiing ability. Ignoring those recommendations increases your chance of injury.

4. Myth: "Toe and heel pieces must be set to the same release indicator value or the bindings won't function right."

Truth: Skiers should have personalized release/retention settings that may mean different indicator values at the toe and heel.

5. Myth: "Formal ski instruction will make you safer."

Truth: In most studies done in North America and Europe, skiing lessons did not decrease the risk of injury and have not been shown to be an effective method for injury prevention.

6. Myth: "The shorter the ski, the less torque is applied to the leg in a fall. Therefore, short skis don't need release bindings."

Truth: Several studies have shown a three- to 20-fold increase in the incidence of ankle and tibia fractures for persons using skiboarder (short trick skis) compared to traditional alpine skis. Release bindings should be a requirement for skis of any length.

7. Myth: "Young bones bend rather than break, so there's no point spending a lot of money on children's equipment."

Truth: Children are at the highest risk for equipment-related injuries. Properly functioning equipment is critical if that risk is to be minimized.

8. Myth: "When buying boots for children, leave plenty of room for fast-growing feet."

Truth: Poor fitting boots are a major factor leading to lower leg fractures and sprains among young skiers. If the foot can easily move within the boot, the binding release function is compromised.

9. Myth: "If you think you're going to fall, just relax and let it happen."

Truth: Skiers should assume the posture of a parachutist just before landing and keep joints moderately flexed. Muscles of the extremities and trunk should be strongly contracted; this response will stiffen and protect bones and joints.

10. Myth: "Exercise is the best way to avoid skiing-related injuries."

Truth: There is no convincing evidence that conditioning of any type can reduce the risk of alpine skiing injuries. However, there is no downside to good physical condition and it may improve the enjoyment of skiing.

11. Myth: "Tighter standards that mandate lower release setting will reduce the risk of an ACL injury."

Truth: The primary mechanisms for ACL injury is not related to binding function, so any reduction in the binding release values would not reduce the risk of ACL injury but could increase the frequency of inadvertent releases.

12. Myth: "Buying new ski equipment is safer than renting."

Truth: Rental equipment from reputable shops is inspected for proper function as well as wear and tear every time it's rented; user-owned equipment is normally inspected only at the beginning of each season.

-- ANCHORAGE (ALASKA) DAILY NEWS

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