Are you fit to ski?

Ski fitness exercises make a big difference to the way you ski. It is obviously also important about skiing or snow boarding to come back injury free. Yet one in every two hundred skiers returns carrying an injury – some serious. Many skiers do no exercise before the first run on the first day and are much more likely to be injured than a fit skier.

If you are going skiing this season here are some tips from Brighton chiropractor, Matthew Bennett, who was chiropractor to the British Alpine Ski Team. These should keep you skiing at your best and keep you safe.

Top tip: Ski Fitness Exercises

It doesn’t matter how late you have left it to get ski fit – start some exercise. Any exercise, even walking briskly is better than nothing. If you already exercise regularly start doing some specific ski exercises like squats, jumping side to side, trampolining or cycling.

Obviously it is best to start training a couple of months before your trip but even a few days of working out will pay dividends. After all the biggest change in fitness occurs in the first two weeks of starting a new program.

Other sports which can help with skiing fitness are less obvious. Roller-blading is great as it uses the muscles at the side of the hip which are often overlooked in most fitness regimes. Even though it is the wrong time of the year tennis can be good too. It involves agility and lots of side to side movement too which mimics skiing in some respects. It is also anaerobic which is very much like skiing.

The sort of aerobic exercises that will help with skiing are cycling and running obviously but less obviously -swimming. Skiing involves a fair bit of upper body strength too. The upper body must balance over the vigorously moving legs so good core strength and shoulder strength to wave the poles about is crucial. Poling over flat terrain also puts a demand on us. Swimming can help with this very nicely whilst improving heart and lung function at the same time.

Top tip: stop skiing at lunchtime on the third day

Of courses aerobic fitness is very important too. Often we underestimate the effects of altitude on our muscles and lungs. A tired skier is much more likely to be injured. The peak incidence of ski related injuries is the afternoon of the third day. The tiredness is taking hold and skiers are becoming more adventurous and more likely to stay out until the last lift down.

Top tip: build balance into your skiing fitness routine

If you like the idea of cycling consider mountain biking over hilly terrain. The pedaling up hill beefs up the thigh muscles but the down hill sections improve balance and co-ordination.

Another way to improve balance is to stand on one leg with your eyes closed for 1 minute, then do the same on the other side. It is amazing how difficult that is and how well it prepare you for the slopes. If you want to take it a step further then ask to borrow one of our wobble boards but watch out – they are hard core!

An important addition to exercise with an element of balance is working out on a gym ball. The unstable nature of these exercises make the muscles work really hard and improve the speed at which they contract when faced with over balancing. Press-ups, sit-ups, wall squats and back extension exercises are great on the ball.

Top tip: Get a Sundial Skiers MOT

Our chiropractors and physio’s can help if you want to make sure you are in tip top shape before setting foot on the snow. A full biomechanical assessment can pin-point the areas you need to work on and improve the flexibility to help prevent injury. If you want a ski check up then call us for an appointment.

Happy skiing.

Matthew Bennett

Matthew Bennett was chiropractor to British Alpine Ski Team and has worked with top ski shops, boot fitters and ski schools in Europe and the USA.

The hidden dangers of Christmas: Top Tips to avoid back pain

Never mind the feeling of being more stuffed than the Christmas turkey there are other hidden dangers lurking around the Christmas tree. Turkey Lifters Back, Shoppers Shoulder, TV Remote Thumb may not be well known but they stalk the unwary festival reveler just the same.

Ok maybe some of those names are made up but Brighton chiropractor Matthew Bennett says “We do notice a marked increase in patients coming in with aches and pains directly related to the Christmas holidays. Probably the biggest increase is in back pain associated with spending more time doing very little. We sit around watching television, eating and drinking and sometimes even a fair bit of stress.”

Tree Mayhem for Backs

Bending and lifting awkwardly is well known to cause back pain. Lugging the Christmas in and trying to get it straight has its own hazard but also bending, stretching and twisting to put on the fairy lights and baubles start the strain.  Add in traipsing around the shops buying gifts and bending over on the floor wrapping them up pile on the pressure on your back joints and muscles.

Turkey Lifters Back

Who would have thought that a turkey could be so menacing. The benign bird becomes 25lbs of sizzling danger when bending over to get it out of a hot oven. The other option of several manageable pre-sliced fillets somehow doesn’t conjure up the same feelings of festive cheer though.

No-one wants to be a killjoy but alcohol is a factor in many of the injuries we see. There is the obvious “PFO” (Pissed and Fell Over) to the more insidious pro-inflammatory effects of booze over several days. On the plus side there is a muscle relaxation effect of moderate alcohol intake but after 2 or 3 drinks this doesn’t work anymore.

Adrenal Stress and Back Pain

Loads of sugar can affect your back too amazingly. Sugar stimulates your adrenal glands amongst other things and this combined with alcohol, caffeine and stress can over-work your adrenal glands leading to adrenal fatigue. Not only can this leave you feeling very tired but your adrenal glands produce anti-inflammatory corticosteroids. Without this chemical any injury is likely to be more painful.

You made it into the afternoon on Christmas Day uninjured. You may have been working in the kitchen on your feet for hours and your back or shoulders may be tightening up but now it is time to relax. You slump down into the sofa and watch a bit of TV. It seems like you stay there until the end of Boxing Day and by the time it is all over you feel like your back is shouting.

Top Tips to Avoid Back Pain this Christmas

  1. Take regular breaks when doing housework or cooking
  2. Use a table rather than standing up for some food preparation like peeling spuds
  3. Get help lifting awkward items
  4. Bend over by going down on one knee when pick up light stuff
  5. Bend your knees and stick your bottom out when lifting heavy stuff
  6. Use a step ladder rather than stretching when putting up decorations
  7. Get out for a regular walk over the holidays
  8. If you don’t go for a walk, do some squats
  9. If you don’t do squats or go for a walk vary the seat you seat in, possibly putting a cushion in the small of your back
  10. Take it easy on the alcohol and sugar

We hope you don’t have need of us but be assured that if you do, we are here between Christmas and New Year.

Happy Christmas from us all at Sundial.