Updated: Mar 17, 2020
Whether it’s hurtling down the side of a mountain at 60km/hour or exploring back-country ski areas with fresh equipment, there is always a sense of adventure and excitement with snow-sports. However, the slopes are much more enjoyable (and a lot safer) if you are physically fit and have done the preparation to ensure your body is in the best possible condition. It is important to prepare properly for a trip to the snow, with snow-sports having a few unique variables contributing to the increased difficulty and injury incidence;
High altitude (increased oxygen demand)Use of different muscles compared to running, cycling, swimming, gym Increased level of balance required (increased demand of stabilizing muscles and overall musculature)
It is important to note that the most common injury sustained from skiing is ACL ruptures, accounting for 10% of all ski-related injuries (Schoenhuber et al., 2018). Further, the thumb and shoulder are also common sites of injury, as well as fractures from incidents of trauma (Farber et al., 2019). These injuries often relate to poor mechanics (e.g. jumping and landing) and relative weakness in specific muscle groups (e.g. hamstrings and glutes), thus the importance of a specific and guided exercise program is paramount to ensure a trip to the slopes does not culminate in an ED visit.
Let’s take the example of an ACL injury;
Landing from a jump in an unbalanced or irregular position
= body-weight is shifted backwards (ACL becomes loaded with a forward migration of the lower leg)
= skis make contact with the snow first and the stiffness of the boots and their binding system further increases load through ACL
= hamstring/glute/calf muscles do not have the required strength or activate to the required degree to prevent this anterior strain
= ACL rupture
Would a prevention and prehabiliation program have lessened the chance of this injury occurring?! – This is the million-dollar question
As well as the benefits of injury prevention, there is a strong established link with improved aerobic capacity and ski performance. Therefore, it is important to maintain and build a strong fitness base to ensure your performance on the slopes is both enjoyable and successful.
With all this in mind, Bayside Sports Medicine’s ‘Get fit to Ski’ program addresses many of these variables – with targeted lower limb and core strengthening, as well as a cardio program to ensure aerobic fitness is at a strong level.