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Winter Warm-up

Sidestep potential injuries before hitting the slopes
By Kaj Bune - October 5th, 2001

Make sure you show up at the top of the hill with a body that is ready to go. A proper warm-up will make your snow riding better and prevent injuries.

You rolled out of bed early, stuffed a banana in your mouth, loaded the car, and drove to the mountain. It snowed all night, and the powder is deep. You flashed your season pass and jumped on the lift. At various points before you reached the top of the hill you had the chance to treat your body well, but like most people you probably missed the opportunity in a sea of adrenalin and caffeine. At some point in this scenario you should have stopped to properly warm up the body and if you have ever had a skiing injury it was probably partially due to a body that was not ready for the demands you put on it.

Lift skiing and snowboarding require a body that is strong, supple, and balanced. When you reach that moment of truth at the top of the first run of the day make certain that you have taken a few minutes to warm up muscles, tendons, ligaments, and circulation. Below are some ideas for preparing the machine before takeoff:

  • Start with a hot shower first thing in the morning. It's winter and the house is cold and the car will be as well. This injection of heat can make a surprising difference in the suppleness of your muscles on a cold morning.
  • After getting out of the shower take 10 minutes and stretch. Spend half the time on your upper body and the other half on the lower. Quads and hamstrings are obvious muscle groups in need of attention for snow sports, but don't neglect the lower back, shoulders, and neck.
  • Reserve the first two runs of the day for warm-up. This can be difficult when the powder is calling your name from the trees, but a couple of warm-up runs will make a big difference in your resistance to injury, to say nothing of the smooth transition from inactivity to big air.
  • After lunch it's worth taking a warm-up run, too. The inactivity and intake of calories will make you a bit sluggish and this can lead to injury.
  • If you will be skiing several days in a row be sure to take the time to stretch after the day on the slopes.
  • And treat yourself with a trip to the hot tub. Start the day with the application of heat and end the same way.

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