Off skiing this season? Not the right time then to say “break a leg”!
Anna Green, sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapist shares her 15 top tips to ensure you return in one piece, refreshed and reenergised.
As a physiotherapist who has worked in a ski resort, I have seen lots disappointed skiers whose time on the slopes has been cut short due to an injury.
Follow these 15 tips and avoid an injury spoiling your time in the mountains.
Snow sports are hard work, the fitter and stronger you are, the less likely you are to have an injury.
Start a training program at least 6 weeks before your holiday. Seeing a physiotherapist for a pre-holiday assessment can be helpful to highlight the areas you need to work on.
2. Get strong and dynamic
In your training programme you need to work on legs and core strength, your balance and your ability to be dynamic and react quickly. Seeking help from a professional will help guide you in the right direction.
3. Work on your ski posture
The foundation of skiing is having a good ski posture. Having the right posture makes you less likely to fall, puts less pressure through your knees and makes everything much more effortless.
Being able to flex at your ankles to get your shins on the front of your boots, knees bent, flexed at the hips, but without sitting back. Back straight not hunched over, arms out wide and in front ready to plant those poles.
4. Have a lesson
Get some professional instruction either at your local snow dome before your holiday or when you get out there. Everyone has things that they can improve upon, and having the best technique possible definitely reduces your chances of injuries.
5. Know how to fall
Falls happen and they happen quickly, so there is no perfect way to fall that is going to stop an injury – but there are things that you can do to help you fall more safely.
Don’t fight it; it’s often trying to correct yourself when you are falling that causes a strain or a sprain. To try to prevent wrist and forearm injuries, tuck your arms in so you don’t land on an outstretched arm.
If you are sliding down hill, lift your feet and skis off the ground; don’t try to dig them in the snow as this can easily cause a twisting force which can injure your knee.
6. Hold your poles correctly
Falling with your poles in your hand can cause an injury called skiers thumb. This is when the force of the pole on your hand and wrist causes damage to the thumb ligaments.
Avoid this by looping your hand underneath your pole straps and hold the pole with the straps under your hand. This way when you fall and let go of the poles, it drops away from your hand and helps avoid that nasty thumb injury
7. Warm up on the slopes
Make sure you do some warm up exercises before you hit that first run of the day. Also taking some time to build up the difficulty is part of warming up; there is no need to flat line a black run first thing!
Cruising for a few easier runs will get those muscles warmed up and ready for the challenge ahead!
8. Stay hydrated
Dehydration reduces concentration and coordination which can lead to injury. We more often associate being dehydrated with being in hot places, but cold weather is also a big risk factor.
It isn’t just about feeling thirsty – your sweat evaporates super quickly in the cold weather. When you can see your breath – that’s the body loosing hydration.
Not to forget those few après-ski beverages which can leave you pretty dehydrated the next morning! So drink plenty of water!
9. Respect the environment
Different conditions present different challenges, whether skiing in powder, in icy conditions, on moguls, in bright sunshine or in a complete white!
Make sure you adapt your speed and technique accordingly. The weather can change so quickly, so be prepared with the right equipment including sun cream, goggles, sun glasses and plenty of layers.
10. Know the piste “highway code”
11. Park Life
You may have seen freestyle skiing in the Olympics and raring to give it a go. If you are going to grind a rail or pop a kicker, it is essential that you are wearing your helmet and that you know how to land a jump.
The best way to learn, again, is to get some professional instruction. Start on the small jumps and rails or have a go on an air bag to get the feel of some air time (with a nice soft landing).
12. Don’t be an off-piste loner
Going off-piste is amazing fun but is also dangerous, so never do it alone! Make sure you have all the correct avalanche safety equipment and also go with a local guide who knows the area and understands the conditions.
13. Recover well
This is a great excuse to eat well and replenish those calories burnt, jump in the hot tub or sauna and have a nice stretch. Get some good sleep and you and your body will be ready to get that first lift in the morning.
14. Listen to your body
Fatigue is a massive cause of injury. You may only get one chance to ski all year, but having an early finish or stopping for a break when your legs are tired could make all the difference and it could be a chance to get some fluids back on board (water, not beer or vin chaud!).
15. Enjoy it!
If you are not enjoying yourself, constantly in a cold sweat and feeling scared, then the chances are you are on runs that are too difficult for you.
Pick an easier run and master that technique then it will become way more fun and less likely to end in an injury. I hope you have an awesome injury free holiday!