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.

2 thoughts on “Are you fit to ski?

  1. A local plastic surgeon went off for winter jolly with his orthopaedic friend.
    On reaching the top of the ski lift there was an entanglement with snapping of his ACL.
    The friends reaction was to roar with laughter commenting that he had repaired many but had not been present at its creation.
    He did the right thing and repaired it for him and he turned up in my office with his leg in a well decorated plaster.

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