Heading off to the mountains for some winter sports fun is a great way to give your entire body a workout and get out of the gym and into the great outdoors. Skiing and snowboarding is a great way to exercise, and will strengthen your leg muscles as well as your core muscles.
Unfortunately, winter sports do pose some risks, and injuries are all too common. The American College of Sports Medicine states that somewhere between 75 to 85 percent of skiing injuries happen because of falls, and the knee is the most common part of the body to get hurt.
Falls can result in serious traumatic injuries, ones that can be hard to recover from, but this should not put you off. There is no need to come back from your ski holiday with an injury that keeps you from continuing your muscle building regime if you take a few simple steps to prepare for the slopes.
Build Up your Aerobic Base
If you are not doing enough to keep your general level of fitness high, then you need to start, preferably two months before your holiday, but at the least one month before. An exercise bike is a great way to build your aerobic base, and it will tone the muscles in your legs too.
Running, swimming, and using a rowing machine will work fine too. Try to exercise for at least half an hour, three times a week in the run up to your holiday.
Get your Legs in Shape
Your legs are going to take the majority of the strain while skiing, so getting some specific muscles prepared for the onslaught is important to avoid injury. Having strong quadriceps, calves, and buttock muscles should mean you will be able to stay stable and avoid a wipeout. There are plenty of exercises you can do to get these muscles in shape.
Squats are a fantastic and simple way to get your legs in shape and can be done at home or pretty much anywhere else. Just slowly crouch down with your back straight, until your knees form a right angle, and then stand up again, and repeat around twenty times. Take a short break and then do another twenty, and repeat this process four or five times.
Your stomach and back muscles also need some preparation, as these will help you to stay balanced if you stumble on the slopes. Press ups and sit ups will do just fine to get these muscles stretched and in shape for skiing.
If you are a beginner then you might be falling over quite a lot. Falling over at low speeds should not pose too much risk of injury, but you will need core strength to get yourself up onto your feet again, so using some machines in the gym to build up your muscles is advisable.
What to Remember Before, During, and After Being Out on The Slopes
- Breakfast. Obviously a good breakfast is called for before you head out into the snow, with plenty of carbohydrates to give you lasting energy.
- Stretching. The most important thing you can do before a day out skiing is to give your muscles a proper stretch. Start with your legs, then move onto your core muscles, abdominals and lower back, and finish with shoulders and neck. Your whole body is used to shift direction at high speeds, so makes sure you are nice and limber.
- Hydration. While out on the mountain, make sure you keep hydrated and cover up any exposed skin from the sun, which will sap your energy.
- Watch Fatigue. It you feel fatigued, take a break, and whatever you do don’t feel like you just have to get one more run in before the day is over. Many injuries occur at the end of the day, when somebody wants one more run, and just doesn’t have the energy for it.
- Cool Down. When you do finish, make sure you give your muscles a warm down stretch too to avoid stiffness.
- Ice, Not Heat. While a nice soak in the hot tub might feel like just the thing to do after a long day skiing, avoid it. Hot water will only help to increase inflammation, and you will be even more swollen when you wake up in the morning for your next day’s skiing. If you do wake up with some tight spots on your muscles, get some ice on them and this will help to treat the tightness.
- Rest. On a last note, don’t push yourself if you are not feeling up to it, just take a day off or head out later, it just isn’t worth the risk.
Ski fitness content by Iglu Ski