Ways to get ski fit and ready for the slopes

Writen by Lindsay.

We’ve caught up with Chris Maher from Ski Physio for some handy easy ski exercises and tips to get you ski fit for the season ahead. Chris is a Chartered Physiotherapist and ski physio who has been established in the alps since 1996.

Making the most of your winter ski holiday means a little bit of preparation some weeks prior could be essential. Skiing is an active exercise and as such the muscles involved will need to be ready so to avoid those sore legs and maybe even reduce your risk of injury.

Snowsport is safer than ever with improved equipment, groomed pistes and better instruction. Statistics taken from the 2012/13 winter season by the “Medicine de Montagne“ who collate all the injury information throughout the French Alps state that, “for every 1000 days participated in all snowsports there are 2.64 injuries”. This means for every 1000 people who ski in a day only 2.64 will need medical help. Most of these will be minor injuries with 95% of patients returning home from the Doctors surgery and not requiring hospitalisation.

Be prepared and ski fit
In addition to the general risk, which is small, other intrinsic factors may also help reduce injury risk. Being prepared and fit for your sport is essential for your neuro-muscular system to cope with the planned ski activity.

This doesn’t mean some squats a few days prior to your holiday. Preparation should be incorporated into your normal physical activity, or at least started 6 weeks prior to your trip. Simple cardio vascular gym work such as cycling or the cross trainer can be of huge benefit in creating endurance and leg strength to improve your ski fitness. Step ups, lunges and squats are also recommended for the same reasons.

Being prepared also means practising the activity you are about to do. This will help your brain’s reaction time and muscles will cope better with the physical stress they are about to incur. Pilates can also be an excellent way to maintain core strength and flexibility.

Practice balance work and warm up before hitting the slopes
In addition to making your muscles strong you can also practice balance work. Standing on an uneven surface (cushion) trying single leg dips is excellent for strength, control and balance around the knee. Also try one leg standing with your eyes closed and see how long you can maintain a stable position without falling.

Dynamic movements are also seen to be more effective in warming up prior to your sport. Before you get on the snow you should emulate the movements of skiing and boarding until you have a light sweat. Your muscles work more efficiently when they are warm and can absorb more stress and less likely to become injured.

In simple terms, and taking into account relevant research, you are less likely to injure yourself if you don’t fall over! So being fitter and better at your sport will reduce your risk of becoming a statistic.

Further ski safety tips are:

  • Check that you ski bindings are at the correct setting
  • Snowboarders should use wrist guards, 25% of all snowboard injuries are wrist fractures
  • The use of helmets can help reduce head injury
  • Follow the FIS code of piste safety
  • Always get professional ski instruction
  • Be aware of excess alcohol while on the slopes

If you have any specific queries or need any Physiotherapy or massage whilst in resort (Meribel, Courchevel, La Tania, Val d’Isere, Tignes, Les Arcs and La Plagne) then please contact the guys over at Ski Physio.

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