Wilmslow-based sports physiotherapists, Harris & Ross, work with Red Bull’s snow sports stars and share some of their pre-ski preparation tips to help avoid you coming home injured.
Skiing at altitude is one of life’s great pleasures, but also one of the most challenging and stressful environments for exercise to take place. However, most recreational skiers will not have prepared themselves for trips and can struggle.
At Harris & Ross, December and January is always busy in our high-performance section with our elite Red Bull snow sports stars getting into prime condition for their various competitions and events. Plus, it is when we are assisting patients heading off for their own ski trips in their rigorous pre-ski trip preparation exercises so they can avoid coming to us with a post trip injury rehab requirement. Skiing injuries are the result of a number of factors. As such, prevention is our key focus!
Fatigue is recognised as a key factor in the occurrence of injuries in winter sports. Once an individual becomes tired, their skill level decreases, and they are more likely to find themselves in a situation where they lose control. We recommend a pre-ski preparation exercise programme that incorporates the following aspects.
Aerobic exercise targeted at improving endurance is essential. Try to exercise at least three times per week for 30 minutes duration at each session. Exercise should be maintained at 60-70% of maximal heart rate for the 30 minutes. Activities such as running, cycling, rowing and the cross-trainer machine are recommended for improving aerobic endurance. But remember, you will be exercising at high altitude where perceived exertion for a set amount of work will be higher than at sea level.
Muscular strength and endurance
Lower limb strength is vital in minimising injury risk. Strength of the calf, quadriceps and gluteal muscles is especially important. Whenever possible, strengthening exercises for these muscle groups should be done in a functional manner to mimic the actions involved in skiing.
Trunk core stability exercises improve control of the abdominal, lumbar and pelvic regions. This allows the individual to maintain control of the body movements and efficiently transfer power between the lower limbs and the upper body. These exercises are very specific and require specific instruction.
Flexibility is very important in preventing injury. Skiers should stretch daily in the weeks leading up to skiing and should stretch pre and post skiing daily while on holiday.
Balance and agility
Balance and agility also play key roles in becoming a better skier. Incorporating drills to enhance these abilities will better prepare you for any terrain the mountains have to offer.
Spending time on pre-ski preparation is the definitive way to stay out of trouble and enjoy your time on the piste to the max!