Skiing and snowboarding are exciting winter sports that are enjoyed by millions of people around the world. However, they can also be dangerous and result in injuries if the proper precautions are not taken.
In this article, we’ll touch on three proven ways to prevent the most common ski and snowboard injuries. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a beginner, these tips and exercises will help you to stay safe and injury-free while enjoying these sports.
The onset of the winter season often brings the excitement of hitting the ski slopes for a week-long ski trip. However, if you haven’t skied since the previous winter, this sudden spike in activity load increases injury risk, especially when your body has not been adequately prepared or trained.
To avoid this, it is important to prepare your body before the season starts by gradually progressing your exercise load, and focusing on ski-specific training. Once the season starts, it is important to also gradually progress your intensity on the hill by starting with easier slopes, taking adequate rest time, beginning with half-day ski sessions, and then slowly advancing to full days and challenging runs.
Skiing and snowboarding challenge your lower body strength, power and endurance, as well as your core, and cardiovascular system. Therefore in order to be prepared for ski season, adequate training is necessary.
Pre-season, target your glutes, quads, hamstrings and core muscles by doing strength exercises such as squats, lunges (ideally lateral), step-ups, deadlifts and planks. Knee injuries are common so building up the muscles around your knees is crucial. For extra training, consider adding holds to the bottom of squats or lunges to mimic positions held in skiing and snowboarding.
It is also important to target your cardiovascular system through exercises such as biking, running, and walking. Additionally, your neuromuscular system, which includes balance, control, and power, needs to be targeted through plyometric exercises like box jumps, single-leg bounding, and lateral skater jumps, as well as balance and control exercises like single-leg balance, Y-balance, and single-leg RDL. To add a challenge, try throwing a ball against a wall and catching it while balancing.
For extra training, combine power exercises with your strength exercises such as doing box jumps followed by squats to help you get used to using muscles even when they’re tired.
A proper warm-up, cool down and recovery is also crucial to prevent ski and snowboard injuries.
Prep your muscles prior to skiing by warming up with some activation exercises such as squats, banded exercises, and wall sits. These movements activate your leg and trunk muscles so they are prepared to work on the slopes. Once on the hill, warm up with easier runs prior to ramping up to more challenging ones.
After 2-3 pm, the temperature usually starts to drop which leads to a harder snowpack or ice. As a result, the risk of injury increases after this time of day. After lunch, consider toning it down to easier runs to cool down.
Aside from doing easier runs, consider light aerobic activity (such as easy walking or biking for 10-15 minutes) after skiing to decrease post-exercise soreness.
After your cool down, stretching and foam rolling are other great techniques to help decrease tightness and soreness associated with muscle fatigue from your day on the slopes.
Skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed safely by taking the proper precautions. By monitoring your activity load and gradually building up your fitness, targeting your lower body strength, cardiovascular system and neuromuscular system through pre-season training, and properly warming up, cooling down and recovering, you can drastically reduce the risk of injury. Remember, taking these steps will not only help you avoid common injuries, but also improve your performance and overall skiing experience.
Maven’s physical therapists are experts at sports training through all four seasons of sports. Get in touch with us today for a consultation and we’ll help you to prevent unwanted ski and snowboard injuries.
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