Winter is just around the corner. With Mammoth hopefully opening on November 8 its time to dust off and tune up your winter equipment, dig out your warm clothes and get your body ready to shred the slopes, ride the bumps and attack the board parks. Whether you’re new to the sport of skiing (or boarding) or a seasoned pro, you probably realize how important and paralleled fitness is to performance. If this is your year to experience the mountains for the first time you will be using a specific group of muscles that you probably never knew you had. As an advanced or expert skier, you may have noticed your energy level while on the slopes has changed since last season. Most of us know how important it is to have a regular exercise routine for basic health, yet that task becomes more difficult as we get older and busier in our daily lives. Getting in shape for the tough demands of skiing requires a larger commitment, not just for a better day on the snow, but also to prevent injuries.
There are three basic components to ski fitness that are necessary for better skiing and less injuries: cardiovascular (aerobic) endurance, flexibility and strength training. If you have not started your winter training program to prepare for your ski trips its not too late. You can start an exercise program lightly and plan to ramp it up prior to your first trip to the mountains. Cardio work should be done 3-5 times per week, lasting 30-45 minutes per session. If cross-country skiing or Skating is your thing then think about rollerblading. Blading or using rollerskis can be the best form of this exercise because you also are using the same motions and muscles as you would on snow. If you plan to use poles, know that you should use a pair that is about four inches taller than you normally would use. Cycling, trail running and hiking in our local mountains are excellent ways to prepare your heart and legs for the slopes.
According to most of the newest literature flexibility is the most important factor to preventing injuries. Stretch all of your muscle groups for 20-30 seconds before and after workouts. Pay special attention to the tendons and ligaments surrounding your joints, they’ll need to be flexible, but strong to prevent injury.
Strength training is essential to maintain a solid athletic position throughout a long day of skiing. Without properly training your muscles for such a vigorous workout, you’ll feel fatigued early on and sore the next day. Pay special attention to your quadriceps and your lower back, where they do the most work on the downhill.
Balance and agility also play key roles in becoming a better skier as well; incorporating drills to enhance these abilities will better prepare you for any terrain the mountains, board parks and trails have to offer. Consult with a strength and conditioning specialist, physical therapist or certified personal trainer to develop a program that works best for you.
Your muscles attach to the bones of your body. If there are any imbalances in these muscles, an abnormal stress will be placed on the skeletal structure. These imbalances put an abnormal stress on the biomechanics of the body and pre-dispose the body to injuries and decrease the overall athletic performance. Prior to the start of the season, seek the advice of a Sports Chiropractor to evaluate your structure for any biomechanical faults.
Research also shows that most injuries happen the first and fourth day of a week trip, the first runs of the morning, the last run of the day and the first run after lunch. Know your limits, prepare for your experience and your trip to the mountains will be an enjoyable adventure.