By Dr. Mobasher Butt and Emily Grenfell
Ski Season is still in full swing, and some of you are acquiring some unnecessary injuries on the slopes. We asked our Dr. Mobasher Butt for some preparatory exercises, and tips to avoid injuring yourselves in the snow.
Before your holiday:
How you hold yourself while skiing is vitally important when it comes to avoiding injury. You can assess your body alignment by standing in front of a mirror with feet in parallel skiing position. You should be able to draw a vertical line from your knee-cap to somewhere between your second and third toe. For many people the line falls closer to their big toe or between their feet, which can lead to twisting knee injuries when skiing.
If your knees fall in the wrong position, do 30 reps of the correct alignment every day, moving your knees up and out to the correct position, until that becomes your default.
Build your quadriceps by doing squats and lunges. These muscles hold you in position while you ski and provide protection for your knees.
Work your hamstrings and glutes with deadlifts, one leg dead lifts, step ups, and hamstring rolls on an exercise ball. These muscles help to hold you in position leaning forward from the hips.
Do side lunges and exercise ball squeezes to build your inner and outer thighs, which help to keep your skis in line, and give you stability when steering.
Work your calves by doing seated or standing calve raises. These can be done at your desk or in front of the TV, so they’re super-convenient to fit into your daily routine.
To protect your spine from injury, you must develop your core. Do bicycle crunches, V-ups, medicine ball twists…. etc.
Along with the rest of your body your arms are used when pushing off with your poles, and straining the wrong muscles here can damage your neck. Work your biceps and triceps along with everything else.
On your holiday:
Poorly set bindings are a recipe for injury. When hiring skis find out your correct weight in kilograms, and be honest about your ability.
There is a higher risk of attaining an injury after 3pm on the third day of your holiday than at any other time. Muscle fatigue reaches its peak 48 hours after your holiday begins, so look after yourself. Taking a break at that point might save you from having to take lots of breaks later due to an injury.
At the end of the day you’re tired, the pistes are crowded and low on powder. All of this is a recipe for a fall, so consider taking the lift down. Always stay in your comfort zone. Bravado might carry you through a poker game, but it’s more likely to carry you off the slopes in a stretcher.
Apres ski is for apres ski, not during. Avoid alcohol at lunchtimes, it slows your reaction times and impairs your judgement.
If you can, ski off-peak. The quieter the slopes the less danger of having to make an emergency swerve, and FYI the powder is best when it’s fresh early in the morning before the snow-boarders have got to it!
A knee brace might seem like a good idea, but unless you’re returning with an old or partially-healed ligament injury or have mild arthritis, a brace might impair the ability of the muscles around the knee to respond effectively to different stresses and strains, which may cause an injury rather than preventing one.
If you would like further advice about how to face the slopes, or have sustained an injury while skiing, our doctors are available from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and are happy to help. Helmets on and ski safe!