Ski trip this year? Prepare & avoid a ski injury with the following ………

Preparation before you hit the slopes
No matter if you plan to ski or ride from first to last lift or just do a couple of runs between Apres ski sessions in a cosy bar it’s worth doing some preparation before you go to enjoy your holiday.
Obviously you need strength and flexibility and an Osteopathic assessment and treatment before you go on your holiday will ensure that you have your best possible bio mechanical alignment before you go on your holiday. We can help improve your flexibility and show you exactly what you exactly what stretches and exercises you will benefit most from
Whether you are a complete beginners or expert black run skier or snowboarder you will need some leg strength. Anyone who has ever done the ski lesson will be familiar with being told (at least 100 times in a lesson) “bend the knees”. Both skiing and snowboarding require you to keep your knees bent (flexed) so that you are able to use your body weight and move it over the edge of your skis or snowboard. If you don’t have some strength and endurance in your quads (the muscle in the front of your thigh!) you will certainly be feeling the burn pretty quickly which might mean you may not get so much use out of that 5 day lift pass! Try the following simple exercises to help prepare the legs

  • Simple quats and lunges using your body weight
  • If you go to the gym and have a bit of existing leg strength try squats in the “smith machine” with weight or a walking lunge with holding some weight in your hands
  • If you have not much existing strength and are not a gym junkie you could also try running up flights of stairs.
  • Look for the stairs everywhere you go start walking up them 2 steps at a time! (you could even put in a lunge or two on the steps while no one’s looking 🙂

as well as leg strength, make sure you have good flexibility – you will definitely benefit from stretches to your Glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves
If you already know how to ski or snowboard well, you will already know it’s all about shifting your body weight over your edges Osteopathic treatment can help you achieve the best possible range of motion and freedom of movement to ski at your best. Giulian Di Venuto has treated many skiers that ski at an elite level and says the following

“Mechanical restriction in certain parts of the spine, pelvis and lower limb limits the technique and performance of the skier. I have found that when treating elite skiers there are some predictable areas of the body that if treated will correct difficulties within their style or technique and leads to improved confidence, performance and reduces the risk of injury” Dr Giulian Di Venuto – Osteopath

To help maintain great technique, strength and not burn your legs out you will also need to engage good abdominal and core strength. Brush up by doing the following.

  • traditional crunches and sit-up will help the abdominal strength
  • The squats and lunges also help to engage the core
  • Traditional Pilates and Swiss ball exercises that engage the core abdominal muscles

Avoiding Injury
Ski injuries are common and let’s face it you can pretty much hurt any and every area of you body if you have a spectacular stack or tumble. Bruises, cuts sprains, strains and of course fractures. You can strain muscles you didn’t even know you had! Knees are the most commonly strained when legs and skis don’t co-operate! Take a few of these simple tips

  • Take lessons, learn and progress
  • Take note of and follow the ski slope rules
  • Warm up with some simple stretches (especially hamstrings, quads, calves and glutes)
  • Use good equipment – and properly fitted boots. Poorly fitting boots can give you some VERY sore feet and boots that are too big can cause you to fall
  • Stay with-in your limits and in control on slopes that you know you can handle
  • If you focus on it ….. you are likely to run into it – so keep looking to the open space where you want to go …. and not trees or ski schools!
  • Keep your knees bent and lean your weight down the slope
  • If you start to fall try not to fall on an outstretched hand – it commonly causes serious strains and fractures
  • If you fall to the side – falling onto ski stocks hurts too ….and will give you some pretty impressive leg bruises
  • If you do fall get your skis etc untwisted and organised before you try to get back up
  • Ski stock straps around your thumbs can cause serious strains if you fall – fit them correctly over your wrists
  • Remember trees are hard and hurt if you hit them! and the best safety advice I can give you on the snow wear a helmet!

What to do if you do injury yourself.
If you have fallen and it feels serious don’t try to ski off the mountain – get help from the ski patrol to avoid making your injury worse.
Get someone to check it out  – but not your mate unless they happen to be a Doctor, radiologist, Osteopath or Physio. There is always a well equipped sports medicine clinic at the mountain with professionals that are used to seeing and assessing ski injuries, snowboarding injuries and the like.
If it’s just a mild joint strain when you get back to your hotel get some ice (crushed in a plastic bag – wrapped in a wet towel) on your injury if there is any swelling it needs some elevation and light compression. Do not apply heat it will make it worse!  Your ski injury really should be rested or you run the risk of making it 10 times worse, but if you get the all clear to keep skiing you may want to consider supporting or bracing the joint. Bruises will also benefit from the same ice treatment.
Don’t hit the Apres Ski bar to tell your spectacular fall story unless you plan on only drinking hot chocolate – Alcohol will sadly only make the swelling and injury worse.
Save Hot tubs, spas and saunas for simply overworked sore muscles at the end of the trip, the heat will only increase any swelling you might have sustained.
Make an appointment to see us when you get home – falling down on the snow a few times even if you don’t sustain a major sports injury will usually “jam” things up and should be ‘freed up” before it becomes the catalyst for some other set of problems!
If you didn’t actually fall and hurt yourself but you wake up the next morning feeling like you have been hit by a truck – better do some pre-ski stretching, plan a day with lots of breaks (maybe at the closest day spa) and start planning next years pre-ski trip fitness regime 🙂
Dr Kellie Rawlings – Osteopath (B.Sc. M.H.Sc)
Principal Osteopath & Co-Director – MOVE Osteopathy