Mind, Body and Soul

SkiTrax - - Contents -

by Lori Mey­ers, Dr. Andy Reed and Beth Mans­field

War­riors, Come Out to Play - Part One of Two by Lori Mey­ers

Skiers are war­riors – out there in all sorts of con­di­tions and us­ing all the skills that ski­ing re­quires. You have plenty of choice to play with. In Part One of this ar­ti­cle, I'll start with the three War­riors. Try them and their vari­a­tions. Of course, re­spect your own lim­i­ta­tions and ap­ply align­ment ad­just­ments that work best for your body. Be a wise war­rior and choose what will make you strong, bal­anced, flex­i­ble, fo­cused and, above all, in­jury-free – all the as­pects of a good skier. There are no short­cuts – prac­tise with your heart, not your ego.

Within each of these, there are mod­i­fi­ca­tions you can choose and as well as adding your own to make the pose work for you. Play­ing with the war­riors will lead you to where you need to be and ben­e­fit most. Re­mem­ber it can change over time, so do not stop play­ing. Like ski­ing, yoga can be prac­tised for life. All vari­a­tions change the re­la­tion­ship of the up­per body to the lower body. It is good for the body to open at many dif­fer­ent an­gles.

Dif­fer­ent mus­cles have dif­fer­ent fi­bre di­rec­tions and some mus­cles have mul­ti­di­rec­tional fi­bres within the same mus­cle. Ev­ery­body has a dif­fer­ent genetic makeup, so mus­cle-fi­bre and soft-tis­sue length will vary, as will the skele­tal struc­ture that ef­fects joints and move­ment. Here are some vari­a­tions you might want to con­sider or go with the “clas­sic” style of pose.

War­rior I - Virab­hadrasana Vira (hero) bhadra (friend) asana (pose). Back leg is in neu­tral in­stead of ex­ter­nal ro­ta­tion and the heel is up off the floor. The knee can be off the floor in a high-lunge po­si­tion or on the floor for a low-lunge po­si­tion. I highly rec­om­mend do­ing these op­tions be­cause it is so sim­i­lar to the po­si­tion in Clas­sic ski­ing. The tra­di­tional form of the pose with the ex­ter­nal ro­ta­tion of the rear leg best re­flects skate ski­ing.

War­rior II - Palms up, hands on the hips or done with a part­ner clasp­ing the rear hands or wrists and lean­ing away from each other.

War­rior III - Arm po­si­tions can vary from reach­ing your fin­ger­tips to the floor, to prayer hands, to air­plane, to over­head. Done with a part­ner hold­ing join­ing hands out front to help with your bal­ance and add that el­e­ment of fun.

Na­maste.

Lori Mey­ers, BPE, is a life coach and yoga/pi­lates in­struc­tor.

It's time to hit the gym! by Dr. Andy Reed

When the snow starts fall­ing, it's nat­u­ral to want to grab our skis and hit the trails with un­bri­dled en­thu­si­asm. We've waited pa­tiently through­out the fall months for the flakes to drop, and when they are here, we want to ski, ski, ski! Yet early-sea­son in­juries are com­mon­place and typ­i­cally re­lated to train­ing er­ror.

Ten­dini­tis is usu­ally a “too much, too soon” phe­nom­e­non, and can be hard to get rid of. Shin splints, ten­nis and golfer's el­bow, low-back pain, an­kle and shoul­der strains, and hip flexor and groin strains are all com­mon early-sea­son is­sues in cross-coun­try skiers. If we sub­ject our tis­sues to too much load be­fore they are con­di­tioned to han­dle it, then we run the risk of in­jury.

We can quan­tify load by look­ing at how much force we sub­ject a given tis­sue to, and how of­ten we sub­ject that tis­sue to that force. So it's easy to see that weak­ness in an area or sim­ply overzeal­ous train­ing fre­quency or vol­ume can lead to prob­lems. Our mus­cles and ten­dons adapt slowly, and we must be cog­nizant that this takes time. A pro­gres­sive but grad­ual in­crease in load­ing is what's needed, in­ter­spersed with pe­ri­ods of rest and re­cov­ery to al­low adap­ta­tions to take place.

One of the best ways to pre­pare for the ski sea­son is to hit the gym. If I'm hon­est, most peo­ple I speak with in en­durance sports would rather be out­doors do­ing their thing than locked in the weight room for hours, but there re­ally is no doubt that a bit of pre-sea­son strength train­ing can not only help to im­prove per­for­mance out there on the snow, but can also dra­mat­i­cally re­duce the risk of in­jury.

In a re­cent pa­per in the BJSM, Lauersen et al looked at just this as­pect of train­ing in a large sys­tem­atic re­view of more than 26,000 par­tic­i­pants. They showed that strength train­ing re­duced the fre­quency of sports in­juries to less than one-third, and that ap­prox­i­mately 50% of overuse in­juries could be pre­vented with ad­e­quate strength train­ing.

An ear­lier pa­per in En­durance Train­ing: Sci­ence & Prac­tice in 2012 looked at strength train­ing in un­trained, trained and elite-level en­durance ath­letes. They showed that strength train­ing has the abil­ity to change our mus­cle-fi­bre type from fast-twitch Type IIX fi­bres to more fa­tigue-re­sis­tant Type IIA fi­bres, along with im­por­tant im­prove­ments in ten­don stiff­ness and neu­ro­mus­cu­lar func­tion, which are as­so­ci­ated with bet­ter per­for­mance.

Fi­nally, Ronnes­tad et al in Scand J Med Sci Sport 2014 showed that heavy and ex­plo­sive strength train­ing could im­prove ex­er­cise econ­omy, lac­tate thresh­old, max­i­mal speed, anaer­o­bic ca­pac­ity and re­duce fa­tigue in en­durance ac­tiv­i­ties – all im­por­tant met­rics.

The bot­tom line here is that strength train­ing can not only make us bet­ter skiers, but can also sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce our risk of in­jury.

In the next is­sue, I will take a look at ex­actly what this train­ing might look like.

Dr. Andy Reed, sport-medicine physi­cian, Team physi­cian, Cana­dian cross-coun­try, biathlon and para-nordic ski teams

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