There are ways to get through ski sea­son healthy

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By DINO MISHEV

Spe­cial to the Wash­ing­ton Post

It was the eas­i­est first day of any of my 21 ski sea­sons in Jack­son, Wyoming: two hours on in­ter­me­di­ate-level groomed runs at the Jack­son Hole Moun­tain Re­sort. Still wear­ing a cast af­ter surgery seven weeks ear­lier to re­paired a shat­tered wrist, I en­joyed tak­ing it easy. Ex­cept the next morn­ing re­vealed that I hadn’t taken it easy enough: I awoke un­able to stand up straight and feel­ing like an ice pick was em­bed­ded in a long-ago her­ni­ated disc. I tried mas­sage, acupunc­ture and phys­i­cal ther­apy be­fore re­sort­ing to an MRI and a course of steroids. It was al­most five weeks be­fore I was able to ski again, and I did so gin­gerly for the rest of the sea­son.

It wasn’t un­til af­ter my wrist was healed and I was able to re­turn to my usual phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties that I re­al­ized my mis­take: Be­cause of my bro­ken wrist, I had started ski sea­son with­out do­ing any of my usual strength train­ing.

“You can’t just ex­pect to come off the couch, or even from yoga, spin classes or run­ning, and ski,” says Crys­tal Wright, a for­mer U.S. Ski Team mem­ber, the win­ner of the 2012 Freeski­ing World Tour and a Jack­son, Wyo.based per­sonal trainer. “Or at least you can’t and re­ally en­joy your­self. At best you’ll be sore and at worst you’ll hurt your­self. Strength train­ing will make your ski va­ca­tion more en­joy­able.”

If you’ve got a ski va­ca­tion planned, here are eight sug­ges­tions re­gard­ing train­ing and equip­ment to make your time on the slopes safer and more en­joy­able.

- - - Pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to your core and glutes.

“Core strength is in­volved in ev­ery part of ski­ing,” says Sue Kramer, the author of “Be Fit to Ski: The Com­plete Guide to Alpine Ski­ing Fit­ness” and a Pro­fes­sional Ski In­struc­tors of Amer­ica ex­am­iner. Kramer rec­om­mends ex­er­cises such as planks and bridges be­fore ad­vanc­ing into move­ments with a ro­ta­tional com­po­nent.

“Ski­ing sub­jects your core to a lot of ro­ta­tional forces, so that’s what you want to strengthen,” she says. Ro­ta­tional core ex­er­cises in­clude moves as sim­ple as hold­ing a ski pole with both hands above your head, then twist­ing at the hip while keep­ing your feet in place. And then there’s what Kramer calls the “snow an­gel.”

“In­stead of mak­ing an an­gel in the snow, do it on the floor, with your legs and arms just a cou­ple of inches off the ground,” she says. “It sounds easy un­til you try it.

When it comes to legs, don’t fo­cus only on your quads. Kramer says a quick change of di- rec­tion on skis will get them to fire, and “with­out any ham­string strength to counter them, the knee can be pulled out of align­ment.” Thirty-two per­cent of all ski in­juries are to the knee, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent re­port from the Na­tional Ski Ar­eas As­so­ci­a­tion’s 10-Year In­ter­val In­jury Study con­ducted dur­ing the 2010-11 sea­son.

Other leg mus­cles to work on are the glu­teus max­imus and the glu­teus medius. You know the for­mer as your butt. The lat­ter, on the out­side of the hip, is of­ten over­looked, although it’s one of the most im­por­tant for skiers, says Wright. “It both turns the knee out­ward and holds it in place,” she says. Clamshells - ly­ing on one’s side with legs bent, and rais­ing and low­er­ing the top leg -- are the sim­plest and eas­i­est way to strengthen the glu­teus medius. To work your ham­strings, butt and quads, try side and lat­eral lunges and split and sumo squats.

— Get your heart rate up for short bursts of time.

“Ski­ing is an in­ter­val sport,” says Bill Fabrocini, who has trained U.S. Ski Team ath­letes and de­vel­oped two on­line ski-fit­ness video pro­grams. “You make turns for one to three min­utes, and then you re­cover.” Fabrocini’s clients of­ten walk up­hill on a tread­mill raise to be­tween 3 and 10 de­grees for about two min­utes; the goal is to work up to about eight two-minute in­ter­vals with about two min­utes of rest in be­tween. He says how you el­e­vate your heart rate isn’t im­por­tant as long as you get it up.

— Work up to im­pact ex­er­cises. Jump­ing helps de­velop your agility, which helps you pre­pare for the dy­namic na­ture of ski­ing. But “if you’re not used to im­pact and you start jump­ing, you can hurt your­self,” says Fabrocini. When you feel you have a base level of strength and are ready for im­pact, Fabrocini sug­gests start­ing with two-legged jumps (side to side and front to back) and work­ing up to one-legged jumps.

— Im­prove your bal­ance with sin­gle-leg ex­er­cises.

“Good bal­ance helps pro­tect your knees,” Kramer says. “A sim­ple yoga tree pose” - with one sole placed high in­side the op­po­site leg -“is a great place to start.” Once you’re com­fort­able with that, progress to stand­ing on one foot for a minute (maybe even on a Bosu ball), then to one-legged squats and hops. “If you can con­vince your­self through these ex­er­cises that it’s OK when the ground moves, you’ll have a bet­ter-qual­ity ski day and pos­si­bly pre­vent in­juries,” Kramer says.

— Take a les­son, even if you’re a good skier.

“If you’re a be­gin­ner, a les­son al­lows you to ben­e­fit from a pro­fes­sional show­ing and telling you,” says Dave Byrd, direc­tor of risk and reg­u­la­tory af­fairs at the Na­tional Ski Ar­eas As­so­ci­a­tion, a trade as­so­ci­a­tion that rep­re­sents more than 300 alpine re­sorts. “Good skiers can think of it as a re­fresher and also get tips about the moun­tain from a pro­fes­sional.”

— Take care of your gear, and get rid of your old-school long skis.

Thirty years ago, the most com­mon ski in­jury was a mid-shaft frac­ture of the tibia, but now, be­cause of ad­vances in boots and bind­ings, it’s very un­com­mon, ac­cord­ing to Jasper Shealy, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of in­dus­trial and sys­tems en­gi­neer­ing at the Rochester In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy who has re­searched ski in­juries for more than 40 years. If this in­jury hap­pens now, he says, “it’s be­cause of poorly ad­justed or main­tained equip­ment.” Have your bind­ings pro­fes­sion­ally set, and be hon­est about your ski­ing level. While Shealy, and all skiers, are still wait­ing for a bind­ing shown to re­duce the num­ber of knee in­juries, he says, “We have seen a fairly sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in knee in­juries due to shorter skis.” (The jury is still out on KneeBind­ings, which are de­signed to pivot, thus pro­tect­ing skiers’ ACLs. Skiers seem to love or hate them.)

— Wear a hel­met.

Hel­mets have not re­duced the in­ci­dence of ski-re­lated fa­tal­i­ties. “You’re go­ing to need more than a hel­met if you run into a solid ob­ject like a tree,” Shealy says. But they are ex­tremely ef­fec­tive at pre­vent­ing head in­juries. One of Shealy’s stud­ies con­cluded that, as hel­met usage in­creased be­tween 1995 and 2015, po­ten­tially se­ri­ous head in­juries de­creased from 4.2 per­cent of all ski in­juries (1995) to 3 per­cent (2015) of all in­juries.

— Con­sider span­dex sup­port. Opedix Dual-Tec 2.0 tights have a scary price tag ($225) but a small-sam­ple-size study at the Univer­sity of Den­ver’s Hu­man Dy­nam­ics Lab­o­ra­tory (HDL) showed they re­duce peak torque on a skier’s knees by 16 per­cent. Mike Decker, the direc­tor of the univer­sity’s Q Lab and a senior re­search sci­en­tist at HDL dur­ing the Opedix study, says the tights were de­signed to give wear­ers “knee con­fi­dence.” De­vel­oped by sci­en­tists at the Stead­man Philip­pon Re­search In­sti­tute in Vail, Colorado, Opedix en­cour­ages joint align­ment with bands of stiff fab­ric that wrap around the hips and knees.

They’re com­pres­sion tights on steroids; be­fore try­ing on a pair I was warned that pop­ping seams is nor­mal. Dar­rell Latham, 61, who takes three or four ski trips to Utah an­nu­ally from his home in Ok­la­homa, ditched his knee brace af­ter dis­cov­er­ing Opedix five years ago. “Wear­ing Opedix feels like cheat­ing,” he says. “I can ski longer when I wear them than when I don’t.” My ex­pe­ri­ence is sim­i­lar: Now I’d no sooner ski in rental boots than I would ski with­out Opedix.

Photo by To­mo­hiro Oh­sumi / Bloomberg

Skiers and snow­board­ers ride down a slope at the Niseko Hana­zono re­sort in Kutchan, Hokkaido.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.