Whether you are a skier or snowboarder, preparing your body for winter is key
A comprehensive conditioning regime consists of more than just a few squats, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym every day in the autumn. Get ready for your next ski holiday.
Most of us opt to spend a week in the mountains, which requires a good base level of fitness but also asks a lot of muscle groups that are not usually deployed in everyday life. Medical professionals recommend that you start to condition your body using ski-specific exercises at least 6 weeks before your winter holiday, fortunately, many of the best exercises for skiing can be done from the comfort of your own home.
FOUR STEPS FOR AN INJURY FREE SEASON
Although skiing and snowboarding may be considered sports for the adrenaline junkie, injuries only occur 2 to 3 per 1000 skier days. Whilst injury cannot be altogether prevented, we can certainly do quite a lot to reduce our risks. These simple tips may help you avoid injuring yourself this coming winter.
The annual ski trip may be considered a family holiday but it requires a high level of fitness and strength to participate safely. Your body will respond to the challenges of skiing and snowboarding far better if you are in good shape. If you have a good baseline fitness, you are much less likely to fatigue. I think that fatique is a common cause of injury in the once a year skier, as evidenced by the fact that the majority of ski injuries occur after 3 p.m. You should probably do 6 to 12 weeks of preparation depending on your baseline level of strength and fitness.
If you have a niggling injury, now is the time to get it dealt with, rather than two weeks before you are about to travel. If you have received treatment for an injury or even had surgery, you need to be realistic about how well recovered you are. Although you may be able to potter down a blue run three months after a knee replacement, you certainly are not fully recovered. ACL reconstruction will take approximately nine months to recover and many do not feel completely recovered until after a year.
It has been noted that injury risk increases 800% if equipment is borrowed. It’s vital that you hire your equipment, or purchase your own, have it set up correctly and it should be in a well-serviced condition. Equally make sure that your equipment matches your level of ability. So have a good hard look at those 15-year-old ski boots and perhaps consider whether it is time for renewal.
Skiing and snowboarding are fun sports, but if you are fearful or scared, your risk of injury will significantly increase. Be aware that alcohol decreases your performance considerably and even a small amount may put you at risk of injury after the lunchtime glass or few. You will be at your most fatigued on day three of the ski trip.
So pace yourself, do not overdo it. When you get on a ski lift, be very aware who you are on a ski lift with. It is easy to be knocked over by the person sitting next to you and every year I see significant knee injuries from people being injured in the first five yards after they get off the lift and, in fact, I would consider it to be most dangerous place on the mountain. Finally, don’t forget that in the mountains it is easy to dehydrate and it should almost go without saying that adequate clothing is essential to prevent hypothermic injuries.
Jonathan Bell is the Ski Club’s injuries and surgery expert. If you have specific questions for Jonathan visit our Ask the Expert pages.