Weâ€™re getting to that time of year again when we start to spend hours on the internet looking at skiing holidays. Itâ€™s an expensive hobby and takes time to plan. We research the snow fall, accommodation, pistes, childrenâ€™s clubs and apres ski. Do we want to ski in or ski out? An open fire? A spa hotel? Self-catering? Do you snow board, ski, go off piste or just walk and enjoy watching others hurtle down a hill?
Alongside all that time spent researching the holiday, how many of us spend time preparing our bodies for what might be the only time some partake in any meaningful exercise? Snow sports have an element of risk which although is of course exhilarating, can also be dangerous. However, correct physical preparation can limit this risk.
Hours of planning and excitement are only too often ruined on the first day of skiing by an injury that could have been avoided with just a few weeks of preparation. Injuries usually fall (excuse the pun) on the first and last days of a skiing holiday. The first because our muscles are too tight and weak for the demands of skiing and the last because muscle fatigue sets in when our legs get tired. Both of these can be avoided by a few simple exercises.
Skiing exercises before you go
The fitter you are generally the better your skiing experience will be. Donâ€™t make the mistake of thinking that a few runs will give you the stamina you need. An exercise programme completed even for just 3 weeks before you go will make you less prone to injury and give you the leg strength and cardio vascular conditioning to complete your runs safely.
Special attention should be given to stretching your Gluteal (bottom), hip, thigh and calf muscles. A 3-week daily stretching programme before you make your skiing safer and likely more enjoyable, as you wonâ€™t be aching quite so much!
Strengthening your core, pelvis, hip, thigh and calf muscles will offer your joints more support and help prevent things like knee strains and sprains from ruining your holiday. Try these skiing exercises at home to help strengthen your muscles:
- Squats â€“ stand with your feet shoulder width apart, push your hips back and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees are over (not in front) your toes and keep your chest up. Stand back up whilst squeezing your bottom and repeat.
- Wall sits â€“ stand with your back against a wall with your feet hip width apart. Move down into your squat position, creating a right angle with your legs. Avoid leaning on your knees and hold it for as long as you can whilst keeping your back flat against the wall.
- Plank â€“ lie on the floor face down, push your hips up so you are resting on your elbows and toes alone. Make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders, creating a flat line from your head to your toes. Engage your core, squeezing your stomach muscles and bottom. Hold this position for as long as you can maintain the correct form. This will not only strengthen your core but you shoulders as well, helping prevent injury.
Warm up before you ski
Now you have put in the preparation before the holiday, itâ€™s important to warm up and cool down on the days you are actually skiing to aid injury prevention. A 10-minute stretch before you get going will help prepare your muscles for a day of skiing, loosening them up and preparing them for the impact they are about to endure. Do another set of stretching once youâ€™ve finished for the day to help relax your muscles and eliminate the build-up of lactic acid.
Of equal importance is of course your equipment. If you are going early in the year then wear plenty of layers and make sure your ski wear is warm without losing flexibility. If you have your own boots, itâ€™s worth checking them well before your trip to make sure that the inner soles donâ€™t need replacing. It can also be beneficial to tape any existing injuries to help stabilise and support them â€“ get in touch to find out what taping is best for you.
Stock up on hand warmers, sun block and make sure that you take a small rucksack to keep a snack and your water in, hydration and sustenance are vital when skiing. Skiing at high altitudes can dehydrate you a lot faster as the air is much thinner, so try drinking 1litre of water before finishing skiing for the day and before you go to bed.
Tight, sore muscles are often very common after a week of skiing! Getting a sports massage upon your return will help lengthen your muscles, aiding recovery and soreness. If you do pick up an injury or niggle while skiing, book a physiotherapy appointment with one of our team, and we can help with your rehabilitation for a safe and speedy recovery.