22 Oct Are You Set to Ski this Winter? START NOW!
The season is fast approaching, and whether your interest is downhill or cross-country skiing, you should put in some preparation to ensure that your body is ready when the snow falls. Injury prevention when skiing involves more than just physical strength: one has to be mentally prepared and of course, ensure that the equipment is well-maintained.
Physical components of ski fitness involve cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, strength training and balance skills. If your legs get tired quickly, you increase the risk of falling after skiing only a few runs. Evidence has shown that ski injuries are most likely to occur in the late morning or late afternoon after people have been on the hills/trails for a few hours. The most common injuries are to the knees (20-32%) or thumbs (17-25%).
Here are 3 tips:
Build Your Endurance: Prepare your body for several hours of activity, your cardio program should include:
- 3-5 days each week of your favourite activity, such as running, stairmaster, elliptical trainer, aerobics class
- a variety of workouts at varying intensities lasting from 20 -45 minutes
Build Your Strength: Skiing uses all of your muscle groups, but some more than others. Concentrate on the lower half in your strength workouts:
- Quadriceps- These muscles hold you in position as you ski, and provides protection for your knees. Squats can simulate the downhill ski position: knees should be bent only about 45% and weight distributed evenly over feet; hold 30 seconds and repeat 8-10 times
- Hamstrings and Glutes- when skiing downhill one tends to lean forward from the hips, and hamstrings and glutes help to stabilize the body. Try a one-legged squat on stairs- stand sideways on a step with arms out in front, lower your leg toward the floor (by bending the leg on the step) and try to stay balanced; repeat 10-15 times each leg
- Inner and outer thighs help to keep your skis together and your body stable. Side lunges or side step squats will work these muscles.
- Calves: your knees stay bent when skiing, which particularly work your soleus muscles (the deeper calf muscle). Standing calf raises over the edge of a step work these. Aim for 15-20 reps.
- Plyometric jumps- two-legged jumping up onto a step, then down, and repeat 10-15 times.
Strength training exercises can help a skier relax on the hill and still maintain control, and handle quick adjustments as needed. It would be beneficial to add abdominal and upper extremity strengthening work for overall conditioning as well as lower body work described above. These exercises should not be painful in any way, and if there is any discomfort that persists after trying any exercise for a few sessions, consult with your physician or physiotherapist.