October 2011

Forward twisting falls cause most ACL injuries in carving skiers, data suggest

In the moment: Sports medicine

The forward twisting fall is the dominant mechanism of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury among male and female carving skiers, according to Austrian investigators writing in October’s International Journal of Sports Medicine.

Investigators from University Innsbruck retrospectively collected demographic data from 220 recreational carving skiers (59 men, 161 women), including skiing ability, equipment and environmental factors, and circumstances, causes, and type of fall.

In both genders forward twisting falls accounted for 54% of injuries; accident circumstances, however, differed significantly by gender.  Bindings not releasing during an accident occurred 2.6 times more frequently (p=0.005) among women skiers, who have a threefold increased risk of ACL injury compared with their male counterparts.

Investigators suggest ACL injury mechanism has changed since the 1990s, when most skiers began using carving skis. A 2009 paper published by the Innsbruck group in Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthro­scopy showed that, in athletes using traditional skis, backward twisting falls were the primary cause of ACL injury. The researchers also note ACL injury incidence seems to have decreased with the widespread use of carving skis.

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