IT’S WINTER, IT’S SKIING TIME………
It’s January, it’s the time of year when the post Christmas blues hit and all of us skiers are planning to hit the slopes in the next three months! Those of us who are skiers, recognise skiing as a fun exhilarating holiday accompanied with wonderful exercise in fresh air surrounded by beautiful scenery. Skiing is however an incredibly demanding sport. It is for most , an infrequent holiday and it is crucial to be ski fit, otherwise your wonderful holiday can be ruined by poor fitness and injury on the slopes. So how can we help? What should we all be doing before we hit the slopes and want to be optimising the first lifts with the freshest snow and staying out skiing till the light goes down?
So how do we stay safe and injury free on the slopes?
Making sure we wear appropriate ski gear, especially boots and socks, is essential to avoid those slope injuries. Socks that cushion, support and absorb the moisture make skiing feet that so very much more comfortable by the end of your day. Boots might feel comfy when you first put them on – but make sure the ski rental guides check your boots in a ski position- i.e. forward lean! Who wants to spend their first morning crippled by calf or foot pain due to too tight boots or slipping boots that cause blisters that then are problematic all week?
Always wear a helmet- pretty much mandatory now! No need to explain why- just wear one!
Know your limits- ski to your ability and listen to your body. Take rests when you need to! Enjoy the superb dazzling white scenery and breathe in that fresh mountain air. Your memories of skiing will be enriched by taking in the whole experience- not just being the first to hit the black run!
Most importantly, pre prepare for your skiing. At least six weeks before, if not three months, it is invaluable to embark on a pre-ski fitness routine! Why do we expect to suddenly be able to ski for 6-8 hours a day when we have done no training? Would you expect to run a half marathon with no preparation?
Warm up pre-ski. A 5-10 minute walk for the beginner skier, or a gentle long blue run for the experienced will allow your body time to adjust.
Stretch those muscles especially your calf, thigh and hamstrings.
Practice ski appropriate movements.
Cool down by slowing down your skiing at the end of the day. Stretch and relax afterwards- stretching is always more beneficial with warm tissues!
Relax and rest after skiing- allow your tissues time to rest while you sample the skiing cuisine and wine!
SO if you follow these simple guidelines, the chance of injury is small. Current statistics approximately 2 out of a 1000 skiers suffer injuries- why be one of them, when you can help yourself?
Always be aware of those critical times for injury-
- The first two hours on the slope of the holiday and each day- the snow is harder and you are finding your feet back at skiing
- Just before you take a break- fatigue starts to set in and those legs wobble
- Just after a break- the body has cooled down and you may have altered rhythm starting back out on the slopes after putting your skis back on
- The last hour of the day- when the snow is getting slushy and everyone is getting tired, plus suddenly all the skiers on the whole of the mountain are heading for home
If while you are skiing you do sustain an injury, it is always advisable to seek medical or physiotherapy assessment as soon as possible so that the right treatment and management can be advised.
So what can you do to help yourself 6-12 weeks before going skiing ?
- Work on the way you stand and correct how you move into the skiing position- your pelvis and leg position are crucial to how your knees , ankle and feet work during your ski
- Work on the strength and endurance of your lower limb muscles- particularly your buttock, thigh and calf muscles- beat those aches in the muscles part way through your day skiing
- Work on your balance and proprioception- if your body is increasingly aware of where it is in space and your muscles reaction times to sudden movements or hazards are improved then your body will respond to twists, turns and changes in direction when skiing
- Cardiovascular fitness- cycling, running or cross trainers can help to increase your general fitness to cope with the demands of a fun exhilarating day on the slopes
Here at Rodger Duckworth Physiotherapy Practice, we can help you to advise what to do pre ski, how to cope with existing injuries and optimise fitness before your holiday, and then should there be any injuries we can help to assess, treat and rehabilitate on your return.
We wish you all a fantastic skiing experience
Should we be able to help in any way, please contact us at Rodger Duckworth Physiotherapy Practice.
The physiotherapy team at Rodger Duckworth Physiotherapy