Snow Bunny Alert: To Ski or Not to Ski?

body conditioning

body conditioningWinter resort check list:

Chalet booked. Check.

Chic new ski jacket. Check.

Body conditioning. Hmmm?

Has it been decades since you’ve carved your way down a mountain? Or, you’ve always wanted to learn but are now reluctant to give it a try? Think again! With some thoughtful preparation and ski day modifications, you can reduce the risk of injury and ensure your cold weather fun quotient.

Strange how we spend months preparing every detail of a ski vacation to only leave out the most important: preparing our bodies! Selena Yeager, National Academy Sports Medicine’s The Training Edge, 2014 posts: “Skiing (and its younger sibling snowboarding) is a full-body affair. As you crouch and shift your weight from side to side and front to back, you need stability and mobility. You also need muscular balance throughout your lower body, core, and upper body to stay in control,” says Patrick Faurer, MS, NASM-CPT, a skiing and snowboarding instructor with the Aspen Skiing Company. “Orchestrating all that is fatiguing if you’re not conditioned for it…”

Be it our daily routine or shooshing down a slope, bunny or black, core stability, arm and leg strength, flexibility and balance all play vital roles in the body performing efficiently. To ensure a safe and enjoyable skiing experience, begin now. Start 4-6 weeks prior to follow these practical body conditioning tips. And, as always, consult your physician before starting any new exercise program to be sure it’s right for you.

Tip 1: Invest in you. These 3 steps pay huge dividends:

1. Lesson/lessons at the slopes:

Whether it’s a first or a refresh, a lesson starts you off on the “right ski’ to learn or review the basics and reduce the risk of injury.

2. Personal Trainer: Individualized ski-centric sessions with a trainer 4-6 weeks prior to your trip will focus on the most important aspects of body conditioning. You will focus on increasing stamina, balance, flexibility and strength.

3. Massage: Massage works to increase and maintain flexibility while relieving tight or sore muscles from your new physical routines.

Tip 2: Mindful moving

1, Begin each morning with the Warm Up to a Morning Warm Up to gently increase flexibility.

2. Increase your cardio. A fitness tracker will motivate and keep you accountable to those 10K steps a day to increase your stamina.

3. Focus on the Big 4: Cardio, Balance, Flexibility, Strength (AARP, Oct. 2016, “Move Every Day,” Simple Ways to Exercise and How Much To Do)

Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., from their highly acclaimed book, Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond, illustrate in “Part 1: The Key to Ending Age Related Decay,” the four areas of exercise to slow age-related physical decay are cardio, flexibility, balance and strength.  These are also ‘spot on’ for snow ski conditioning. Keep it simple by making them a part of your day: take the stairs, tighten your core while standing or sitting, balance on one foot while brushing your teeth, and chair squat, adding a bicep curl each time you stand up to tighten your core.

Tip 3: Avoid too much too soon

The #1 reason for injury says AFAA, American Fitness Association of America, is too much too soon. So, whether body conditioning or actively engaging in your sport, remember the harder the intensity, the longer the rest. And vary the intensity. Be it a daily walk or skiing down the mountain, HIVT, or High Intensity Variable Training, alternates a push of intensity with active recovery. Take time to enjoy the gorgeous view as you cruise or rest yourself often. Consider skiing a half first day or every other day while including stretching, whirlpool or massage in between. Your body will thank you by the end of the week.

Tip 4: Prepare for the cold

Dr. John Galucci, president of JAG Physical Therapy, in his article, “Limber Up! Avoiding cold-weather injuries,” AARP 2016, suggests the following to help keep your body injury free: an active warm up and cool down with a stretch, proper water and wind resistant clothing, and proper hydration, at least 6 ounces of water every 15 minutes.

Start now to make these tips a part of your day. Wouldn’t it be great to look as good skiing as you do in that new jacket?