Preventing injury on the snow

As the days grow shorter and the temperature starts to drop, for many of us our thoughts turn to snow sports. Preventing injury on the snow will be important as it has been a long time since many of us have skied or boarded over the past few years.

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Winter Olympic Sports Physiotherapist Kerry Staples has some tips for us all.

Riding with friends and family, and just being in the mountains is an unforgettable experience.  But there are injury risks associated with snow sports, that can be reduced.  Get fit for the snow, start now.

According to Kerry there are 4 key benefits for getting fitter for the snow:

  • Improved cardio fitness to last longer on the slopes
  • Ski/snowboard specific muscle strength conditioning to reduce muscle soreness
  • Improved balance, co-ordination, and reaction time
  • Injury and illness prevention
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Preparation is essential so that you can make the most of your snow time and prevent injury.  Ideally you should try and start at least six weeks before your holiday to have a noticeable difference.

In essence: skiing and boarding is an all over body workout and no matter what your level, it is important to work on all the elements that combine to make you ‘ski fit’…and help keep you strong, safe and in control on the mountain.

A few tips to ensure great fun in the snow.

  • Get your equipment checked before you go to the snow – bindings, skis and boards, boots
  • Warm up with a few dynamic stretches prior to hitting the slopes
  • Use proper protective equipment such as helmets, goggles, wrist braces or back protectors are just a few examples
  • Take some lessons or instruction – We can all learn new skills and doing lessons is a great
  • Have regular rests – injuries may occur more on that last run before lunch or at the end of the day due to tiredness & loss of concentration
  • Hydrate lots and regularly – about 500mL per hour is recommended.  If you ride for 2.5 hours without fluids, you will be irrecoverably dehydrated for the rest of the day!
  • Stick with the slopes and terrain that suit your ability
  • Observe the alpine responsibility code – these are the ‘road rules’ when on snow
  • Never ski or board alone, and always carry and know how to use safety gear when off-piste or backcountry touring.
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