The temperature has dropped, snow is starting to fall and your season pass has arrived – but is your body ready for winter?
Your fitness level can make or break the season. And you don’t want to injure yourself in your first few weeks on the slopes.
With the help of my work colleague Mark Simpson to show you, here are some simple ways to prevent injuries and keep you slicing up that powder.
The most common reason for injury on the slopes is falling over.
To improve your balance and control of your leg muscles – and boost your chances of staying upright – try this exercise. Stand on your right leg, without holding on to anything, for a couple of minutes.
Now try balancing with your left leg, eyes closed, in a half-squat position or on a wobbly surface. Practise whenever you can – talking on the phone, brushing your teeth or playing ball with the kids.
Try a simple test: squat as if you’re skiing or boarding and hold that position for as long as possible. Did you last 10 seconds, one minute or five minutes?
If your thighs started burning after 10 seconds, how will they cope with multiple squats during your snow day?
To build muscle, include strengthening exercises in your daily routine. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, squat till your knees are at an 80-degree angle, hold for 10 seconds. Do two sets of 20, two or three times daily.
Are you in a healthy weight range?
Is that a six-pack or a keg on your tummy? The heavier you are, the harder you fall. Remember this as
you do the groceries and load up on healthy food.
Can you stay continually active for up to seven hours a day? Is your cardiovascular system – your heart and lungs – working well? If not, it’s time to get them into shape. A fast walk, run or bike ride for 30-60 minutes a day will get you fit for the slopes.
Are you flexible enough to get into your gear easily? Can you walk in your boots – carrying your equipment – and still move? These daily stretches can make a big difference to your enjoyment up the hill. Do one side of your body at a time and hold each stretch for 30 seconds. You should feel tightness, not pain or burning.
1 Quadriceps stretch:
Stand, bend your right leg up behind you till it touches your butt, hold your right foot, both knees should be beside each other. You’ll feel tightness at the front of your thigh. Repeat for left side.
2 Calf stretch:
Stand, put your right foot behind you, heel flat on the ground, foot facing forward, then lean forward from the waist – with your right knee straight – till you feel the stretch up the back of your right calf. Repeat for left side.
3 Hamstring stretch:
Stand, put your right foot on the seat of a chair, toes to ceiling, knees straight, bending forward from your waist till you feel tightness behind your right thigh. Repeat for left side.