Winter is the busiest time of the year on the slopes and for hospitals and doctors’ offices treating skiing-related injuries. Skiing is a great way to get outdoors, exercise, and have fun, but it does come with its risks.
To ensure you can safely enjoy the slopes, it’s critical that you know a bit about ski conditioning and how to take care of your body while skiing.
At Axis, we are committed to helping give our patients the knowledge they need to ski better and prevent injuries. So let’s look at tips on staying safe and getting the most out of your ski experience.
The Different Types of Skiing & The Risks
Before we look at some tips on ski conditioning, it’s essential to understand the different types of skiing and associated risks.
Slalom: Slalom skiing involves quick turns and is a great way to challenge your skills, but it also increases the risk of injury because you’re moving quickly down the slopes. To minimize the risk of injury while slalom skiing, focus on balance and agility when training.
Giant Slalom: Giant slalom (GS) involves longer, wider turns that are less abrupt than slalom skiing. This type of skiing is a bit slower and requires more control and power to make the turns. Training for GS should focus on strength, balance, and endurance so that you can get through the long runs without getting fatigued.
Super Giant Slalom (Super G): This type of skiing combines the technique of slalom and GS. It requires a lot of skill, control, and power to make the turns quickly while still staying in control. To best prepare for Super G, focus on improving your agility, balance, coordination, and strength.
Downhill: Downhill skiing is the fastest form of skiing, so it’s essential to be especially mindful of potential risks. To stay safe while downhill skiing, you should focus on improving your flexibility and strengthening your ankles and legs. In addition, many injuries can be avoided by taking the time to warm up and stretch before hitting the slopes.
Ski Conditioning Tips
Now that you know a bit about the different types of skiing, let’s take a look at some tips for ski conditioning:
1. Know Your Ski Mechanics
Knowing your ski mechanics will help you stay in control and improve your technique. In addition, with a better understanding of the proper way to ski, you’ll be able to anticipate terrain changes and react quickly – which is key for avoiding injuries on the slopes.
There are three primary dimensions of movement involved with skiing:
- Flexion/Extension: This is the bending and stretching of the legs when skiing.
- Turning: This is the ability to control and change your direction when skiing.
- Tipping: Using the coronal plane, you can shift your weight from one side of the ski to the other.
Working all three of these dimensions will require various strengthening and conditioning skills – including pressure, rotation, and edging – to help you keep your balance and stay in control when skiing.
2. Improve Balance & Flexibility
As mentioned above, having a good balance is vital for controlling your ski movements.
You can improve your balance by doing exercises such as single-leg balancing drills and standing on unstable surfaces like a Bosu ball or foam roller. Additionally, stretching is essential for improving flexibility and keeping your muscles loose.
Other exercises, such as ankle and quad stretches, squats, and lunges, are also beneficial for improving your skiing ability. Incorporating these exercises into your routine will help you stay safe on the slopes and reduce the risk of injury. In addition, the right amount of rotation flexibility in the core, legs, and feet can also improve your skiing stance.
3. Strengthen & Condition
Strength is vital for controlling ski movements, so it’s important to train your muscles accordingly. For example, squats, step-ups, and other leg exercises are great for building strength in the legs, which is essential for making turns. You should also include activities such as planks, side extensions, and core rotations to strengthen the core muscles.
Knowing the ideal pole plant and pole swing for the upper body can help you with more control and speed when skiing. Exercises such as shoulder presses, rows, cable pull, and tricep extensions can all give you the strength needed for these movements. Using the pole plant with your legs to help you control your speed and turns when on the slopes.
Avoiding Injury while Skiing
While a skiing injury can occur to anyone at any time, the most likely cause of a mishap is using the wrong equipment without proper education. Individuals who attempt to hit the slopes without the right skills or equipment can increase their risk of injury.
Therefore, it’s important to take the time to get familiar with your skis and make sure they are appropriately sized for you. This includes your boots and bindings, as they need to fit correctly in order to provide the right level of support and control.
It’s also important to know your skill level and stick with the terrain you’re comfortable skiing. Trying to ski trails that are too difficult for your ability can lead to falls and other hazards. Moreover, it’s essential that you practice proper technique – such as turning with the terrain, using good posture, and pressuring your skis – to minimize the risk of falls and injuries.
Avoid “phantom foot” – a common position untrained skiers take when unaware of the proper technique. This can increase the chances of a serious injury.
What if I Get Injured while Skiing?
Injuries can range in severity from minor bruises to more serious ones like ACL tears or fractures. If you happen to get injured, it’s important to get proper medical attention immediately to avoid further complications.
Rehab for skiing injuries often includes physical therapy, which can help you regain the strength and mobility to return to skiing safely.
At Axis, we work with patients to return to their pre-injury activity level while avoiding further injury. Rehab programs consist of exercises and circuits designed to work out weakened muscles and regain range of motion.
Hit the Slopes Safely with Axis
Don’t allow yourself to become part of the statistics – take the time to learn the right skills and get familiar with your skis so you can stay safe on the slopes. With a proper warm-up routine and education on skiing, everyone can enjoy this fantastic sport safely.
At Axis, we understand that injuries can occur anytime to anyone. Our team is here to help you rehab an injury and get back in the game. With our personalized approach, we work with each individual to create a plan tailored to their specific needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you ski safely!