Are You Ski Ready?
Preparing against injuries this snow season
Winter is almost here – and there is no better thrill than carving up the slopes on a perfect powder day. The biggest threat to your fun however, is getting injured.
The most common injury I see during the ski season is a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This often requires surgery and can take 6 weeks in recovery – a major season killer. To avoid coming to see me this season, I’ve put together a few preventive measures you can take.
- Get into snow shape. Ideally you should start training 6 weeks before you head off to the slopes – in other words now. In addition to cardio, add some squats, wall sits, side skaters, and side planks to your workouts.
- Watch out for fatigue. Regardless of how fit you are, there is a big difference between training at the gym and actually hitting the slopes. Injuries happen more commonly when you are tired especially:
- on the first day;
- in the early morning when you’re not warmed up;
- later in the day when fatigue sets in; and
- after a few days on the slope when your muscles are tired and sore.
- Ski within your limits. If you are new to skiing or snowboarding, take lessons and learn how to fall correctly and safely to reduce the risk of injury. Even if you’re rusty and have missed a few seasons, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your techniques. Select runs carefully and gradually build your way up to more challenging trails.
- Warm up. Research studies have shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up and stretch for 3 to 5 minutes before hitting the slopes and take a couple of slow runs to ease into it.
- Know safety rules. Understand and abide by all rules of the snow resort. Know the general safety rules of skiing, such as how to safely stop, merge, and give way to other skiers and snowboarders. And always stick to terrain that is a comfortable challenge but not overwhelming.
- Be aware of conditions. There’s a huge difference between ice and powder. Be aware of how the conditions change the snow and how well you can adapt to these.
- Listen to your body. You might be tired, sore, dehydrated, or have low blood sugar levels. By listening and responding to your body’s signs, you can help prevent injury.
- Fall correctly. Believe it or not, there are “correct” ways to fall. Most people try and overcorrect and go rigid. The best way is to go with the momentum of a fall, maintaining good ski technique the whole time. This is something you can be taught – which is why whether you’re a beginner or a pro – you should take lessons to brush up on these skills.
- Use proper gear. To improve the safety of your skiing, your bindings should be no more than 3 to 4 years old and you should get your equipment tested each year at a certified shop. And always, always wear a helmet.