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Do you teach beginners how to fall?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I just finished reading the threads on ACL injuries in the Health & Fitness forum. Through earlier research, I've discovered that many ACL injuries inflict beginners because they do not fall "correctly". According to Carl Ettlinger of the Vermont Safety Research group, fewer people would sustain injuries if they were given direction on how to properly fall; yes there appears to be a proper way. The problem is, many resorts do not teach beginners how to fall, for fear of someone getting hurt while following their directions.

Do you teach beginning students how to fall? Should we? What's the tradeoff? Is the message from Ski School consistent with the resort's legal folks?
post #2 of 26
I don't know if there is a way to fall, per se. I do make all beginners fall -- repeatedly. To make sure they are not afraid to fall. Sometimes people get hurt because they are actively trying to control or avoid a fall.
post #3 of 26
No! It's not part of the curriculum. Used to be that you taught a skis down the hill and sit on your butt fall, but that's not allowed any more.

We are not even allowed to demo some of the old how to get up if you do fall techniques.

Lawyers?
post #4 of 26
wow -- Yuki -really? You are not allowed to teach any of it?
post #5 of 26
If they ask, I give them a little lecture. Generally I try to throw into beginners lessons that if they are falling, contol it so they subside onto their hip, and not to try and "pull out" of a fall, but to control its progress.

I show them how to get up if they ask, too. (My aim is that none of them will fall, at least not during the lesson anyway).
Trouble is I can't get up via that method where you push up with your hands on the snow. And the method I use, putting the stocks in the snow next to me and using both arms to go up, doesn't work for the average person! (unless they've done a bit of weightlifting). I find that the hands on snow thing works for bendy people, and my method works for people who're strongish.

So it's usually a group effort, everyone experimenting with what works for them (which, for most adults, is to take off the uphill ski).
post #6 of 26
What is the "hands on the snow" method? Is that the one where you roll on your belly and spread your ski tips out (upside-down snow angel) so you can do a push-up against the inside edges of the skis? I find that works for all but the heaviest, least athletic individuals. My get-up advice for them is to get on one hip and pop off the uphill ski so they can use that foot under them to help get up.

Regarding falling, I also rely on "lecturing" against resisting falling and in favor of attempting to fall onto a hip. I also suggest that if you're sliding, don't try to stop yourself with your skis unless they're uphill from you. We don't "practice" any of this stuff.
post #7 of 26

Phantom Foot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alleninvail
I just finished reading the threads on ACL injuries in the Health & Fitness forum. Through earlier research, I've discovered that many ACL injuries inflict beginners because they do not fall "correctly". According to Carl Ettlinger of the Vermont Safety Research group, fewer people would sustain injuries if they were given direction on how to properly fall; yes there appears to be a proper way. The problem is, many resorts do not teach beginners how to fall, for fear of someone getting hurt while following their directions.

Do you teach beginning students how to fall? Should we? What's the tradeoff? Is the message from Ski School consistent with the resort's legal folks?
This is the "phantom" foot and there is a very good film and research to back up statistics that say "get your feet" above/uphill immediately. We show this film to our patrollers.

No, we do not teach falling we teach getting up. I am not sure how well it would work if you told new skiers to make sure if they do fall they move their skis uphill so they slide downhill head first.
post #8 of 26
When asked I tell my students, that if they fall, to try to fall to the side so they don't get stuck on their tails and zoom down the hill. If they end up on thier tails, I tell them to dump over on one side to stop the slide. I've never taught at a place where we practiced falls.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson
What is the "hands on the snow" method?
the one where they put their hands uphill of them, and push themselves up. Most try to do it with one hand behind them, and max out their arm half way up. I can tell them how to do it properly (both hands on the snow in front of the knee! and walk up on their hands) but i can't do it, I'm not bendy enough.

I watched some older instructors showing another method, where they put both stocks together, and lever themselves up with those. I'm not convinced by it although it did seem to work. taking off the uphill ski seems the best fallback for all the normal people.
post #10 of 26
I think that the "powers that be" ..... PSIA and general management have decided, probably based on past law suits, that if you show them how to fall and then in court, after an injury, they did it as "instructed" .... they collect, despite all the disclaimers on the agreement.

Additionally, it takes up too much class time when you are pushing a group of ten never-evers in an hour and a half lesson. Now toss in "getting up" and you are falling behind the expected "norm". The expected "norm" is that of a class of ten, you would have about 60% of them taking their first trip up the lift for a series of linked turns (after splitting the class). God help you if you are a few minutes late to line up because you were ordered to take a few that you knew were going to crash and burn ...... I guess I was just supposed to leave them down on the snow?

Might as well say it now. I will NOT be teaching next year and ... it has nothing to do with $$$$$. It's out of total disgust with an "assembly line" approach to ski instruction.

On getting up techniqes ... there is no "perfect" way that you can teach that and not risk getting sued .... I guess? If you demo the basket in the snow and hand on the top of the grip, they may blow a muscle in their arm. If you demo the "herringbone" and push-up technique and they take off backwards down the hill ...... so ..... just tell em' to pop out of their skis and move off to the side ..... 'company policy".
post #11 of 26
I have to ask the question regarding ACL injuries, did they control for the level of skiers sustaining the injuries?

Just like in flying, there is an acute learning curve. There is a point in low/mid time pilots who have an increased level of confidence but with insufficient "true skills" and comprehension to... "screw the pooch".

When a seventeen year old (all balls/no brains), gets booking down a hill at speed and encounters:

- Bumps

- Ice

- Crud

- A death cookie

It's gonna hit the fan pretty quick and there is no "correct" technique that they will be able to recall and put into use in any practical sense.

In high end skiers (read survivors), it's pure reaction (hopefully the right one), that keeps them (most of the time), whole and healthy.

If the injury rate is among skiers who are comfortable on green groomers, it's a point that falling correctly would significantly bring down the morbidity.
post #12 of 26
I must say (on Yuki's post) I have had heaps of the classic ACL falls (last 4 years when someone hooks the tail of my ski while I'm stationary in the wedge position) and am falling backwards in that horrible wedge. Dunno if i'm acl-less or what, but so far no dreaded "pop" although while I'm slowly toppling down, I'm waiting for it. Then again, when in the weight gyms up til 10 years ago, my hammies were doing bigger weights than my quads! (I worked on them as I was disgusted with the small weights I did on the hammy curl).
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
It's an interesting predicament: do you prepare a beginner by instructing them on the inevitable or try the "head in the sand" approach. On the one hand, if you instruct people what to watch our for, they may be equipped for years to come with information that could save their limbs. On the other hand, in this litigious society, almost anything that you say can and will be misconstrued.

I wonder if doctors have stopped telling their patients how to manage their cholesterol, for fear of getting sued over "bad" advice? "...it was the whole wheat that did me in..."
post #14 of 26
Usually I keep it to two thoughts:

If you can-fall to the side-not forward or backwards.

When you start to fall imagine you are an overcooked piece of spaghetti-go as limp as you can
post #15 of 26
Nobody had to teach me; I was a natural at falling (and I got lots of practice).
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alleninvail
It's an interesting predicament: do you prepare a beginner by instructing them on the inevitable or try the "head in the sand" approach. On the one hand, if you instruct people what to watch our for, they may be equipped for years to come with information that could save their limbs. On the other hand, in this litigious society, almost anything that you say can and will be misconstrued.

I wonder if doctors have stopped telling their patients how to manage their cholesterol, for fear of getting sued over "bad" advice? "...it was the whole wheat that did me in..."
What is amazing, as a culture, we seem to want to take the negative side rather than the positive side of why we don’t do something. A) Telling someone they are going to fall pre-programs the person to do what? Fall! I taught water skiing for many years and I never taught my students about “we are going to turn”. Why? Because they worried more about turning than water skiing and inevitably they would fall turning. If I didn’t mention turning they almost always NEVER fell in a turn. Unfortunately I learned this the hard way or should I say my students did. B) In all the directors meetings I have been in NSP or PSIA none of this type of stuff, teach or not to teach, liability or non-liability has ever been discussed, ever! Of course I only have thirty-five years under my belt so maybe the discussions happen long before my time and I have never been above a Division level so maybe it happens at a National level but I highly doubt it. Should I also say as a SS supervisor we have never discussed anything but a good instructor training program AND a good lesson plan.

Sometimes I really wonder where these thoughts come from. We don’t teach falling because it implants a negative into the human computer and I will guarantee you the student will fall. It has nothing to do with any of the side stuff you are reading. If you teach a student how to fall, fine do it, but make sure you teach an easy way to get up, not to attempt to stop a high speed fall, and to get the skis uphill to avoid the “phantom foot” which levers the ski and takes the ACL.

Paranoia seems to abound these days for some reason and we give SAM and other organizations way more credit than they deserve, believe me, I have been there too many times!
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant
I must say (on Yuki's post) I have had heaps of the classic ACL falls (last 4 years when someone hooks the tail of my ski while I'm stationary in the wedge position) and am falling backwards in that horrible wedge. Dunno if i'm acl-less or what, but so far no dreaded "pop" although while I'm slowly toppling down, I'm waiting for it. Then again, when in the weight gyms up til 10 years ago, my hammies were doing bigger weights than my quads! (I worked on them as I was disgusted with the small weights I did on the hammy curl).
Falling into the phantom foot position while stationary will not generally cause an ACL injury. The injury is caused by the tail of the ski carving uphill while the hips are below the knees and the hands are below the hips. The high, stiff rear cuff of modern ski boots combines with the tails of todays' supersidecut skis to literally tear apart the ACL.

Or at least that's what I've gathered from being forced to watch the "ACL Awareness Video" during dryland training all these years.
post #18 of 26

I believe this was taught to all of NSP

It may have been 7-10 years ago, but I believe NSP had a class delivered to all patrollers that summarized the research by the Vermont skier safety group that is posted on their web page. It's more than how to fall, it's really how NOT to fall, and body positions NOT to get in. (I didn't look at the site again before posting this, but hands forward is an avoidance technique that sticks in my memory. Their research identified several related keys that were present in all ACL ski injuries.) But read the site, don't trust my rusty memory.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by iskitoofast4u
Falling into the phantom foot position while stationary will not generally cause an ACL injury. The injury is caused by the tail of the ski carving uphill while the hips are below the knees and the hands are below the hips. The high, stiff rear cuff of modern ski boots combines with the tails of todays' supersidecut skis to literally tear apart the ACL.

Or at least that's what I've gathered from being forced to watch the "ACL Awareness Video" during dryland training all these years.
Simply put, if your skis are below you in a fall the force is the wrong direction, against the ski, creating al lever on the leg/knee and yes the boot helps transfer the force but either way it would happen.
post #20 of 26
When you say either way it would happen, are you referring to with or without the boot or stationary vs. moving falls?
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by iskitoofast4u
When you say either way it would happen, are you referring to with or without the boot or stationary vs. moving falls?
Sorry, I meant the leverage would happen to the skier in a sliding fall whether the boot was stiff or soft; the time sequence would just take longer and probably there would be higher rate of injury to the ankle in a softer Nordic type boot. Once the ankle is flexed to its range the fulcrum would then transfer up the leg. The study by Carl Ettinger and the film was based on a falling skier not a standing skier. It is realy pretty simple when you think about it; Carl did.
post #22 of 26
I see what you're saying here, but answer me this: Why have ACL injuries skyrocked over the past decade or two? Is it because the stiff plastic modern boot allows that strain to move up the leg to the knee without first breaking the leg? I know broken legs used to be the big injury, but they're pretty rare these days when compared to knee injuries.
post #23 of 26
This is pure conjecture on my part but I don’t believe ACL injuries necessarily have sky rocket everywhere. If we look at the demographics, I would almost bet the mid-west has not seen an increase in ACL tears. Why? We still have the school programs and the various learn to ski programs associated with the same injuries in this skier group. I know at our local area, while injuries do seem to change from time to time, the ACL is not sky rocketing. I work at pretty major “backyard” Midwest ski area with high impact “Learn to Turn” programs. By the way we have newer equipment but it is still rental!

Now if we go to major destination areas we do not find the same types of skiers. ACL injuries may have sky rocketed; I have not looked at any studies lately. Here, I would say the new equipment has allowed the “skier” to be more venturesome with lesser skills than previous skiers would require for the same adventure like bumps and steeper groomed terrain. Also, we see a lot more people bombing down the cat tracks where a slow twisting fall, normally associated with an ACL, can occur. Shorter shaped skis, less stable in a straight higher speed run, and we have the cat track slam. Also, I think the new equipment has allowed the skier to ski at higher speeds; at least they seem to faster and more out of control today than they use to be.

Finally, skiers are older today, that is a fact by all studies, and I wonder if they are not a little more out of shape. I start working out know for next season now. I wish this meant I am buff but alas know, just getting older and need conditioning to stay at higher level.

Carl’s study is years old but maintains if skiers could be trained to move their feet above them immediately upon falling, eliminating the leverage of the ski, most of the ACL injuries and knee injuries of all types, would be eliminated. The fulcrum on the knee would be gone. Also, as an after thought, I am not sure a break would be associated with this type of movement. The knee is probably the first thing to go now that the boots are more protective of the ankle. Alas though, a friend had major surgery on her ankle this season due to a fall at Vail. I wonder how the fall took out her ankle and not the knee first.
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cole
This is pure conjecture on my part but I don’t believe ACL injuries necessarily have sky rocket everywhere.
I disagree. Within the time period I referred to (the last 2 decades give or take a few years), knee injuries have become the predominant leg injury, overtaking the lower leg fracture that was common in the 1970's era. From the National Ski Area Association website:

"The most significant upward trend in ski injuries since the early 1970s, according to a study by the University of Vermont Department of Orthopedics, was in ACL injuries, or injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knees, which crosses the knee at a diagonal angle underneath the kneecap. The increase in serious knee injuries, especially ACL injuries, has reversed itself in the last three to five years. This welcome decrease is on the order of 30 to 35% so far. We believe that this decrease is due to the recent introduction of significantly shorter skis, which have shorter tails, and are thus less prone to the dreaded Phantom Foot Syndrome."

Like I said, last two decades give or take a few years. I'm willing to bet that even with the 30-35% decrease since 1999, soft tissue injuries to the knee are still occurring more often than fractures of the leg.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cole
If we look at the demographics, I would almost bet the mid-west has not seen an increase in ACL tears. Why? We still have the school programs and the various learn to ski programs associated with the same injuries in this skier group. I know at our local area, while injuries do seem to change from time to time, the ACL is not sky rocketing. I work at pretty major “backyard” Midwest ski area with high impact “Learn to Turn” programs. By the way we have newer equipment but it is still rental!

I'll take that bet. Anyone run #'s here? lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cole
Now if we go to major destination areas we do not find the same types of skiers.
I agree, but I'm interested as to your interpretation of the skiers you see at your Mid-West area vs. the skiers that one would find at major destination resorts. Are your skiers better or worse? On older equipment? Understand that I am not putting you down here, I'm just interested as to what you think the demographics are and how they differ between Mid-West and destination resorts, as well as how those demographics affect injury rates and types.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cole
ACL injuries may have sky rocketed; I have not looked at any studies lately. Here, I would say the new equipment has allowed the “skier” to be more venturesome with lesser skills than previous skiers would require for the same adventure like bumps and steeper groomed terrain. Also, we see a lot more people bombing down the cat tracks where a slow twisting fall, normally associated with an ACL, can occur. Shorter shaped skis, less stable in a straight higher speed run, and we have the cat track slam. Also, I think the new equipment has allowed the skier to ski at higher speeds; at least they seem to faster and more out of control today than they use to be.
Agreed on all points. It is interesting to note that the NSAA study I quoted above points to shorter shaped skis as decreasing ACL injuries, as it was my understanding that the shaped ski revolution led to an increase in knee injuries. It could be an argument of semantics, however, or too many variables to isolate the actual cause of the rise in knee injuries. Perhaps the shorter tails lead to less knee injuries, but the overall improvement of ski, boot, and binding design still manages to override the shorter tails?


Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cole
Finally, skiers are older today, that is a fact by all studies, and I wonder if they are not a little more out of shape. I start working out know for next season now. I wish this meant I am buff but alas know, just getting older and need conditioning to stay at higher level.
If we're talking about Americans here, then yes, the skiers are a little more out of shape. It sounds harsh, but we all know it's no secret that our country has been rapidly expanding over the past couple decades. While skiers as a whole are probably healthier than those Americans who do not exercise at all, we're not immune to the weight problem. Combined with less free time and yes, a lot of skiers are a little more out of shape. Add to this the explosion in uphill lift capacity and you have a recipe for disaster: Tired, out of shape skiers with veritable Ferrari's on their feet. This certainly has added to the ACL problem.



Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cole
Carl’s study is years old but maintains if skiers could be trained to move their feet above them immediately upon falling, eliminating the leverage of the ski, most of the ACL injuries and knee injuries of all types, would be eliminated. The fulcrum on the knee would be gone. Also, as an after thought, I am not sure a break would be associated with this type of movement. The knee is probably the first thing to go now that the boots are more protective of the ankle. Alas though, a friend had major surgery on her ankle this season due to a fall at Vail. I wonder how the fall took out her ankle and not the knee first.
His study is right, but as with any type of split second reaction, his "move your feet above you" idea is better on paper than in practice. Simply put, most skiers do not have the training nor the patience to learn this move. Falls often occur literally in seconds. Just as most people will never be able to correct for TTO (Trailing Throttle Oversteer) in a car (b/c to correct it requires you to get on the throttle, which is completely counter-intuitive when your car is attempting to swap ends.), most casual skiers will never be able to correct, in a split second, the phantom foot.

Getting back to the original topic, perhaps teaching skiers to fall properly could correct this problem. As was stated earlier, however, it's not a great idea in a beginner lesson. Imparting negative thoughts into a fearful person is never a recipe for success.
post #25 of 26

Is Carl Ettlinger's (VT Safety Research) info still applicable?

Is Carl Ettlinger's (VT Safety Research) knee injury/ACL info still applicable?

Especially in regards to "Tips for Knee Friendly Skiing" http://www.vermontskisafety.com/faq_...iers_tips.html
and "8 Steps to Safer Skiing" http://www.vermontskisafety.com/faq_...q_skier_7.html.

I think it is but welcome other folks' thoughts/references/etc.

Has equipment technology updates (straight skis to shaped skis, boots, bindings, etc.) or newer research/thinking changed the validity of Carl Ettlinger's knee injury/ACL advice (VT Safety Research)?

Thanks for your help.



Skiing Injuries - Statistics/Articles (A few references may only be viewed using Google's cache instead of going to the actual web address)

Scotland statistics - Scottish Snow Sports Safety Study (Dr. Mike Langran) www.ski-injury.com/stats1.htm MCL 33%

"Ski injury statistics 1982-1993 Jackson Hole Ski Resort" in American Journal of Sports Medicine (AJSM) 1995 (WJ Warme et al) http://journal.ajsm.org/cgi/content/abstract/23/5/597 ACL 16% MCL 18%

"Winter Sports Injuries" Charles Stewart 1998 http://www.hypertension-consult.com/...ntersports.htm ACL 33%

"A Method to Help Reduce the Risk of Serious Knee Sprains Incurred in Alpine Skiing" AJSM Sep 95 (Carl Ettlinger et al) http://factotem.org/library/database...SM-Sep95.shtml ACL Injury incidence ranged from 30 to 70 per 100,000 skiers per day

"Knowing a Few Tricks Can Prevent Ski Injuries" Idaho Statesman 1/16/2001 (Dr Paul Collins) http://theactivenetwork.com/story.cfm?story_id=6095 MCL 20-25%

"Effect of Ski Binding Parameters on Knee Biomechanics: A Three-Dimensional Computational Study" Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise July 2004 (Nancy St-Onge et al) http://www.ms-se.com/pt/re/msse/full...7000-00020.htm lower extremity injuries 40-60%

"Alpine ski bindings and injuries. Current findings." http://www.markreiter.com/infos/Alpi...20injuries.htm good summary of current research

"Sports and Recreation Injury Prevention Strategies: Systematic Review and Best Practices" Nov 2001 pages 15-31 (Andria Scanlan et al) http://www.injuryresearch.bc.ca/Publ...aticReport.pdf good summary of current research

"Snow Skiing Injuries" Australian Family Physician July 2003 (Tim Schneider) www.racgp.org.au/document.asp?id=9995 knee injuries 35%

"Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Incidence Among Male and Female Professional Alpine Skiers" AJSM 1999 (Randall Viola et al) http://journal.ajsm.org/cgi/content/abstract/27/6/792

"Skiing Injuries" AJSM May-June 1999 (Robert E Hunter) http://factotem.org/library/database...SM-May99.shtml

"Facts about Skiing/Snowboard Safety updated 12/04" National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) http://www.nsaa.org/nsaa/safety/fact...owboarding.asp


Stone Clinic articles (Dr. Kevin Stone) http://stoneclinic.com/recent_papers.htm
post #26 of 26
I'm not a doctor (studying for the bar was tough enough, no way could I hack 36+ hour residency shifts), but I believe his advice is still very relevant. In fact, although his tips are knee specific, many of them can prevent injury to other parts of the body as well. Staying in shape, having your equipment examined, and learning how to fall properly (way, way after the initial learn to ski lesson) all contribute to a lessened risk of injury, serious or benign. IMHO.
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