For all the patient skiers and snowboarders out there who actually look forward to the snow that winter brings, the time to rejoice has finally arrived. With some mountains already opened and most others soon to follow, ski season is finally here and—depending on the snow—won’t be going anywhere until at least early spring.
Whether you’ve been raised on skis or a snowboard or just started getting into one of them over the past few years, there’s no denying the awesome power of combining breathtaking views with an intense cardiovascular workout that comes from hitting the slopes.
One of the only potential downsides of this great form of exercise is the risk for injury. Skiing and snowboarding equipment has improved significantly over the years and has made both sports much safer, but injuries are still common for various reasons. For skiers, injuries to the knee—especially to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)—are most prevalent, while it’s wrist fractures and other injuries to the upper body for snowboarders.
Most skiing and snowboarding injuries are the result of poor conditioning or equipment failure. Though snow conditions and unexpected hazards are factors that cannot be controlled on the slopes, the shape of your equipment and conditioning level can. Priming your muscles before your first day making turns will prepare your quadriceps and hamstrings (thigh muscles) for the intense workout ahead of them and in the process will reduce your chance of injury.
A conditioning program is most effective if started at least a month before hitting the slopes, so for those of you who still have some time before your first day out, ARS Hand and Physical Therapy in Springfield, NJ recommends the following:
- A typical conditioning program should include aerobic fitness, strength training, flexibility and balance exercises; here are some examples:
- Aerobic: running, cycling, swimming, elliptical, stair climber or jump rope; perform one of these for at least 30 minutes, 3-5 days per week
- Strength: leg press, wall squats, hamstring curls, toe raises, planks, side planks, straight lunges, side lunges and sit ups; one minute of each exercise three days per week
- Flexibility: stretch the hamstrings, quadriceps and Achilles; two sets of one-minute for each stretch, performed daily
- Balance: mini squats alternating between each leg and single leg hops held for five seconds on landing; two sets of one-minute each, performed daily
- Check to make sure all equipment, including boots, bindings, poles, skis and snowboard are in good condition, properly sized, adjusted and tested
- Warm up and stretch before starting the day—especially the first one of the season—and begin with some easier runs first to get the blood moving
At ARS Hand and Physical Therapy in Springfield, NJ, we want you to have a safe and successful season on the slopes. For more information on the exercises or stretches mentioned here or to schedule an appointment, call us at 973-379-7006.