Now is the time to prepare for your winter sports holiday, says Naomi Dinneen from Physio 1to1 in Godalming
A week in the Alps, or your favorite alpine destination, is great fun… but also hard work. Unless you are an endurance athlete, this is the only time you will exercise for up to seven hours a day, and perhaps six days in a row.
If you were taking on a fitness challenge this big, like running the Marathon De Sables, you would put in at least 4-6 months of training so why not do the same for your winter ‘ski-athon’?
A February half-term skiing trip seems like a long way away but it’s actually only 14 weeks away and with the likely two week break over Christmas, it’s time to get going.
The extra strength and flexibility you will gain will make the holiday much more enjoyable, what’s more this much needed preparation will reduce your risk of injury. With one in six holidaymakers suffering an injury whilst taking part in snow sports, this is key not just for a fun trip, but also a fun 2018.
So what can you do?
Start now – get fit, strong, flexible and balanced
Key things to work on are: your cardiovascular fitness, quadriceps and gluteal power and endurance, calf flexibility, core strength, inside thigh strength, outside thigh and hip flexibility and balance. You may also choose to include a plyometric workout involving jumping and hopping to allow you to seamlessly drop from one mogul to the next.
Have you noticed whilst swooshing down the pistes that one turn is harder than the other? We’re all slightly different left to right and in normal life this might not be an issue but if you choose to go off piste or tackle a mogul field at the end of a long day, this imbalance becomes a problem. Make sure your strength programme includes single leg as well as double leg work to ensure you identify and correct these imbalances.
Keep in mind that your form or posture throughout this fitness routine is much more important than your reps. Quality over quantity!
An oldie but goodie is the squat, traditionally taught as a held position against the wall. This hold can be beneficial in building thigh strength, but keep in mind that as we go down the slopes turning and absorbing the bumps, our knees slightly straighten and bend.
To improve on the isometric wall squat, place your back against a slippery wall with your feet hip width apart and at least two feet away from the wall.
A: gently bend your knees sliding your back down the wall keeping the knees aligned over the second toes.
Then B: return to the start position with control. Repeat this movement 10 x 3 and you should feel that familiar thigh ‘warmth’.
However, if you’re getting knee pain it might be time to:
Get those new niggles or old injuries assessed
That low back niggle or shoulder twinge you’ve had for the last three months has probably been better over the summer but after lifting the kids’ skis (and quite possibly them) up to the ski lift you might not feel quite the same.
An average course of treatment generally lasts 3-4 weeks, then any imbalances identified tend to take 2-3 months to correct so get a head start and you’ll be laughing by Christmas.
Warm up and cool down
In the weeks preceding the holiday it’s worth getting into the habit of a 5 minute ski-specific warm-up and cool down. If regularly practised this will become second nature and easily reproduced while you’re waiting for that cold beer or hot chocolate at the après-ski bar.
It’s crazy to work this hard on your fitness then struggle due to foot pain in ill-fitting boots. Take your time choosing equipment in the mountain hire shop and don’t be afraid to go back and change your equipment halfway through the week if it’s just not right.
Take some good instruction
It’s well worth booking a 2 hour lesson on the first day of your trip now. This will remind you of your little nuances. In particular, a physio’s nightmare is the ‘a frame’ stance, with either the feet too wide or knees dropping inwards, as this causes undue stress on the knees, hips and low back.
Physio 1to1 are offering three x 6 week courses of ski fitness pilates training, covering the basics of getting fit for your holiday and setting you up with the tools and knowledge to keep you going at home.
If you would like a more detailed analysis of your ski fitness including muscle length and strength testing we are also happy to analyse you on a 1 to 1 basis.
Physio 1to1, Bridge Mews, Bridge St, Godalming GU7 1HZ
Phone: 01483 424470. www.physio1to1.org.uk