The aim of the present study was to evaluate to what extent uninjured male and female skiers are able to self-release their ski bindings that were recently adjusted according to the ISO 11088 standard for binding setting values. The main finding was that significantly more females were not able to self-release their ski bindings compared to males.
In our tests, 84% of female trials and 54% of male trials showed a failure of self-release of their ski bindings. These sex-specific values seem in line with findings observed among ACL-injured recreational skiers where 74–88% of female skiers compared to 55–67% male skiers reported a failure of binding to release [9,10,11,12]. This conformity might be somewhat surprising as the self-release test was performed in a stationary laboratory setting in contrast to the self-reported amount of failure of binding release during skiing on the slope leading to an ACL injury. However, it may become understandable considering the findings by LaPorte et al.  who showed that a total of 44% of lower leg injuries (50% of all tibia fractures, 44% of all MCL injuries, 47% of all complex knee sprains, and 43% of all ACL injuries) occurred at low speed or in a stationary position indicating the potential problem of ski binding release at low speed.
Relative release torques (RRT) of female and male trials of failure of binding release were about 41 and 51%, respectively, indicating a huge difference to the recommended binding setting values. In a field experiment, Scher and Mote  analysed forces among a cohort of 12 recreational skiers (two females, ten males) during skiing by using two six-load component dynamometers which were attached under the toe and the heel binding of the left ski. They found that the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) recommended release settings were significantly higher than the forces required to ski normally on varied terrain from hard snow to soft spring snow for ten of the 12 skiers . With regard to the lateral release setting at the toe, ten of the subjects skied within 67% of the current settings and could have lowered this setting by 33% without signalling for inadvertent release . In addition, for inexperienced, lightweight skiers, the release setting at the toe could have been lowered by 38%. Interestingly, the only subject who fell two times and released from the ski was a female beginner skier whose measured minimum retention setting at the toe was found to be 61% of the ASTM recommended setting . Scher and Mote  concluded from their results that forces generated during skiing depend more on a skiing style variable than on anthropometrical parameters and that, therefore, binding standards that depend on weight, height, and age cannot predict accurately the minimum retention settings for individual skiers. According to the ISO 11088 standard for binding values, skiers have to differentiate between skiing speed (slow to moderate vs. fast), terrain (gentle to moderate vs. steep), and skiing style (cautious vs. aggressive) to classify themselves into one out of three skiing types. Studies, however, found that female skiers are skiing on average at significant lower speeds compared to male skiers [13, 19] and that females, less skilled and cautious skiers perceived their actual speed as fast, moderate, and slow when skiing up to 10 km/h significantly slower compared males, more skilled skiers, and risky skiers . As the ISO 11088 standard for binding setting values does not consider any sex-specific factor so far and to get more insight in needed retention settings of male and female recreational skiers, we would strongly recommend replicating the study design by Scher and Mote , however, aiming at comparing potential differences between males and females.
The observed RRT difference of about 20% between male and female trials of failure of binding release might be also considered when discussing the implementation of a sex factor within the ISO 11088 standard. In previous years, a lower binding setting among female skiers has been discussed by LaPorte et al. . In a case-control study, they found that lower binding release values in female skiers set 15% lower than those recommended by the ISO 11088 standard would clearly reduce knee injuries in these persons. No increase in injuries from inadvertent binding release through reduced binding settings has been found . However, these findings mean an association, and not definitely “cause and effect” relationship, because another study at the same time showed a decrease in ACL injury risk without reducing binding settings  which might be due to the introduction of the short and shaped carving skis at this time . Interestingly, the ISO 11088 standard accepts a deviation of 15% between the measured release moment (“reference moment”) determined according to the setting tables in ISO 8061 and ski binding settings may also be lowered by the same magnitude upon request of the skier . However, this fact is generally unknown in the overall skier population, but could represent a potential preventive measure, especially for female recreational skiers.
A study by Werner and Willis  found that muscle strength is highly correlated with the ability to release the binding in a self-release test. Assume that a male and a female skier of equal age, height, weight, and ski boot sole length classified themselves as type-3 skier (fast speed, steep terrain, aggressive style). They both would get the same binding setting values without considering sex. With regard to the equal weight of the male and female skier in the mentioned example, it has to be considered that the weight-to-strength ratio is negatively influenced by the higher fat mass in females  may be partly explaining the sex difference within the lack of binding release among ACL-injured recreational skiers due to less muscular strength among females. Participants of the present study were young healthy and physically active males and females. Although sexes significantly differ regarding body mass and BMI, no significant differences were detected within relative maximum isometric leg strength when normalized by body weight. Therefore, one would assume that both sexes are able to self-release their bindings to the same amount.
As performing the self-release test seems to prevent skiing injuries [15, 16], male and female skiers should be able to self-release their ski bindings to the same extent, if their bindings are correctly adjusted according to the ISO 11088 standard. However, compared to about 70% of males only one fifth of females in this study were able to self-release their ski bindings with both legs. Therefore, the question arises whether a lowering of the binding settings for females by, e.g. 15% would be relevant in order to decrease the risk of female knee injuries without an increase of inadvertent releases. However, to answer this question, more research in laboratory as well in field settings is needed.
In conclusion, three times more females than males were unable to self-release their ski bindings although their bindings were correctly adjusted according to the ISO 11088 standard. In addition, females reached about 20% lower RRT values within failure of binding release trials although males and females did not differ with regard to relative isometric leg strength.