(If you have any questions or concerns regarding these explanations, please do not hesitate to contact us directly).
The air is getting crisper, the summits are already white. Yes, it’s nearly here! The winter season is just around the corner and for many of you this means packing your bags for that long-awaited ski trip to the beautiful winter wonderland of your choosing.
Whether you are a first timer starting on a baby slope, an experienced skier, a freerider or anything in between, it is essential that you prepare! A 6-8 hour day on the slopes will naturally be a lot more demanding than your daily job. Skiing or snowboarding is not only aerobic fitness (endurance) but also requires core stability, balance, flexibility and strength.
Preparation should begin 6-12 weeks prior to your time away (fitness level depending). To prepare for your aerobic fitness, you can try running or cycling, and if you’re more the gym type, you should jump on cross trainers or step machines. Training your cardio is the most important building block to being ‘ski ready’, especially as your alpine efforts happen at a higher altitude.
For your strength training, try to focus on particular muscle groups. Starting with the most obvious, your quadriceps and hamstrings (your thighs). These muscles need to be strong, as they are crucial when having to maintain different degrees of squat positions during skiing or snowboarding. It is important to work on the strength (squats/hamstrings curls) but also the endurance (wall sit/bridge) of these two muscle groups. Remember that the stronger these muscles are the more you will avoid knee injuries.
Particularly, if you are a snowboarder (although skiers shouldn’t shy away from this), you may want to add calf strengthening to your program. Your calves (soleus and gastrocnemius) need to be strong to be able to control the direction of your board by shifting your weight from your heel edge to your toe edge. Equally, these muscles need to be flexible to be able to meet the demands of a ski or snowboard boot, which requires a large range of ankle dorsiflexion (this means minimising the distance/angle between your shin and toes). The more flexible you are, the easier you will find it to control your board or skis.
Skiing and snowboarding are all about control. If your lower body is doing all the hard work, you want your upper body to follow. This is where your core/abdominals play a key role in changing direction.
This is imperative for all types of skiing: from mogul skiing to pushing through deep powder snow. It is a common misunderstanding that to gain core stability, exercises such as sit-ups are adequate. However, these exercises focus only on superficial muscles such as the rectus abdominus. To further increase your core strength, it is equally important to strengthen your deeper muscles to protect your lumbar spine. Exercises such as “the plank” or Pilates are great for this. Like any sports training, it is always more effective if you can make your exercises sport specific. Try using your arms and legs as levers while you work on your deep muscles.
Last but definitely not least, the gluteals: hip stability and hip abduction (moving the leg outwards) like shifting your weight side to side during skiing is hard work and will get those muscles firing. Prepare you glutes with slow contractions or isometric exercises.
If you have any pain or injuries, it is recommended to seek medical advice or to consult a physiotherapist prior to your holiday.
2: WARM UP
You’ve prepared, you’ve got your gear, and you cannot wait to get on the slopes but don’t spoil your preparation by not doing a quick warm up. Spend just 10 quick minutes warming up all your joints by trying to target those key muscle groups we just spoke about. Try dynamic stretches, heel raises, squats, jumping jacks and body rotations. Move every joint through their full range of motion a couple of times. Do this with a friend or family member, it’s always more fun.
You guessed it! The best way to prevent injuries is protecting yourself by strapping up. This could mean wearing a back protector or wrist guard; consult your physiotherapist if you are unsure. A helmet is one thing you should not be on the slopes without! It is worth every penny.
4: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
As the day goes on, your body will naturally begin to fatigue. Be mindful to take regular water breaks to stay hydrated (non-alcoholic drinks are recommended). Listen to your body and if you are feeling tired or aching, call it a day! We all have that one friend who has hurt themselves on the last run. This will not only help you avoid injuries but allow you to be 100% for the rest of your trip. Also, why not treat yourself to a massage by The Verbier Touch to help with delayed onset muscle soreness and get rid of all that lactic acid build up.
5: APRÈS SKI IS CALLING!
You’ve finished skiing for the day and Après Ski is calling! Before you start dancing the night away, think about doing a few stretches. Also, remember that drinking alcohol is more likely to impact you at altitude especially after physical effort. Remember these tips to avoid sore muscles and a sore head!
If you need any expert advice or help, please do not hesitate to contact us.