It’s the time of year that most of us are preparing for the festive season. However, many are, or should be preparing their bodies if they’re going skiing this winter. Snow sports are strenuous, often high adrenalin and popular with all ages. However, for most of us, a ski holiday is an expensive, single week and we want to get the most out of it. We want to be able to ski everyday, enjoy the odd gluwein and avoid injury. Most injuries occur when we are tired or cold, so it makes sense to prepare for a ski holiday with some fitness training as we don’t want to wake up on day two of our holiday with achy limbs.
This year we are seeing particularly low temperatures in the UK so we may feel it in Europe too. We use a lot of energy keeping warm so will tire more quickly. Fatigue slows our responses to unanticipated situations and makes us vulnerable to injury from falling or pulling a muscle. Being fit and strong before we go on holiday and having the right clothing means we’re better prepared for this week-long assault on our bodies and thus less likely to get injured.
Ideally begin fitness training 4-6 weeks before your holiday, working on stamina, leg strength, flexibility and coordination. Improving stamina before you go will help prevent the painful build-up of lactic acid in the muscles that makes them sore the day after activity. It will also improve your cardio-vascular output so that you don’t get tired so quickly and can get more out of your time. Strengthening our gluts (buttock muscles) and quads (thigh muscles) is particularly important as these powerful muscles control our ski posture and absorb shock. Injuries to muscles can take weeks to repair, but can be helped with physiotherapy, particularly important in preventing complications in the healing process. Better not to get injured in the first place. Being flexible can also help in preventing muscle injuries.
Another common injury from skiing is ligament damage. Knee ligaments are most commonly injured from falls, twisting the knee or from poor snow-plough position in beginners. The two most commonly injured ligaments are the medial ligament on the inside of the knee and the anterior cruciate ligament inside the knee. Both are serious problems and need medical assessment. Injuries to these ligaments usually require physiotherapy, often involving coordination and strengthening exercises. Having good coordination and core stability before you go can help reduce the risk of injury. If in doubt, contact your physiotherapist for advice.