Skiing and snowboarding are great ways to get active in winter in Australia, but two things can ruin a holiday at the snow – injury and muscle soreness. Both of these issues can be prevented with a bit of preparation and some helpful advice from our sports physiotherapy experts. Here are 6 ways you can get snowsport-ready and reduce your risk of injury.
Strengthen your core
Your core is vital to stabilising your body during skiing and snowboarding movements and it also provides essential protection for your spine. The stronger your core is the better you leg muscles will work and the easier it will be for you get back up after a fall. There is a range of things you can do to strengthen your core abdominal muscles from pilates and yoga to simple exercises such as planks, crunches, sit-ups and anti-rotational exercises.
Improve your cardiovascular fitness
If you only have a short amount of time before your weekend in the snow you should get as many cardio workouts in as you can before you leave. Running, cycling, and swimming are all great options but even taking the stairs at work instead of the lift is a good way to boost your cardiovascular fitness.
The Wall Sit Exercise
When you wear ski boots you get in a position ready for skiing you are forced to stand with your back straight and your legs slightly bent. If you don’t have strong thighs and gluteal (butt) muscles you can get tired very easily. You can strengthen these muscles by doing the wall sit exercise, where you put your back flat against a wall and then slowly slide down it until your legs are bent at the knees. You then stop when you can feel a pull on your quadriceps, and hold the position there for 30 – 60 seconds (or as long as you can).
Work on your balance
The muscles you use during skiing and snowboarding are ‘internal rotators’ or balancing muscles. You can strengthen these muscles by using balance boards or playing sports such as football and other sports that require quick and rapid movements and changes in direction. Activities like rollerblading and skateboarding help you develop the coordination and balance required for skiing and snowboarding.
This seems like an obvious one but dehydration can adversely affect the performance of your muscles and consequently increase your risk of injury. Dehydration can also have a serious impact on cognitive performance. Drink plenty of water before and after runs to maximise performance and endurance.
One of the most important things you need to do before going skiing or snowboarding is to warm up. It’s a good idea to 10 – 15 minutes of dynamic stretches including hamstring, glute, quadricep stretches and squats.
When you arrive at the snow, it’s a good idea to start with the easier runs and slopes, slowly building, especially if you are a beginner.
How can Fairfield Physiotherapy Sports and Injuries Centre help you get fit to ski?
If you are planning on going skiing, but have an injured knee, suffer from back pain or are simply concerned that you’re not fit enough to ski or snowboard, our physiotherapists can help you get ready for snow sports. We will select specific exercises to meet your individual needs and any existing injuries. We can also advise you on muscle strength conditioning activities you can engage in the weeks and days leading up to your trip which will reduce muscle soreness after each run.
Our own Ben Bond is a current National Team Physiotherapist for the Australian Cross Country Ski squad. We draw on such specialised experience in sports physiotherapy to empower our patients to achieve maximum fitness, enhance their performance and prevent injuries throughout the ski season.