Preventing Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries
Although winter doesn’t begin for another few weeks, going to the gym only a handful of times before your winter vacation won’t properly prepare your body for the slopes. Below are a few things to keep in mind and to begin working on, so that you can get the most enjoyment out of your trip:
- High Altitude and Low Temperature- The reduced oxygen at the tops of mountains will force your cardiovascular system to work harder to supply your muscles with blood and oxygen. Without proper training, your body will not be efficient in this process, which could result in shortness of breath and muscular fatigue. You should begin cardiovascular exercise (brisk walking, elliptical, biking, running) at least two months prior to your vacation to allow your body enough time to adapt.
- Flexibility- The low temperatures of the slopes can result in muscles becoming stiff, making them slower to respond and lacking range of motion. Try to avoid static stretching (prolonged holds) or bouncing, and instead focus on dynamic stretches (gentle stretches while moving) that are pain-free. Focusing on your hip flexors and calf muscles are helpful as these tend to be tight in most people, particularly those who sit at a desk.
- Muscular Endurance- Unless you are a racer, skiing and snowboarding is not a sprint, it is more of an endurance exercise. Your muscles (quads, hamstrings, glutes) must contract over-and-over throughout the day to help you down the mountain. To prepare your muscles for this task, you are better suited to lift lighter weights, using higher reps, rather than the more typical higher weight, lower rep scheme. This will prepare these muscles to work for longer periods of time, preventing fatigue.
- Balance- As you go down the mountain you are frequently hitting bumps that challenge your balance. Without proper training, these little bumps can result in falls which can lead to injuries. Working on BOSU balls, Airex pads or performing single leg activities can all help to improve balance and lower your risk of falling.
- Core Strength– Being in the hunched forward position that is required while skiing or snowboarding can put large amounts of stress on your back. Working to increase the strength of your abdominal muscles can help to prevent lower back pain and injuries.