Before Hitting the Slopes: Tips To Prevent Injuries

Ski season is approaching rapidly and before you know it, you will be bundled up and hitting the slopes. But, is your body ready? Far too many of us wait until the last minute to try to get our body in shape for winter activities like skiing and snowboarding.

Ski injuries are very common and on the rise. Also, from my standpoint as an orthopedic surgeon, many, if not most, are preventable. One key factor in preventing ski injuries is being in tip-top shape. Conditioning should be year round. Unfortunately, so many wait until they book their ski trip to hit the gym. You can't get yourself into ski shape in a few weeks. Hopefully you've been doing cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training all year. If not, get started right now because there is still time.

Also, to prepare for skiing be sure to add or focus on the following:

  • In addition to usual cardiovascular work, add interval training in which you increase the intensity of the activity for short bursts. The stationery bike is ideal in that it builds strength and endurance in the front thigh (quads), which is your key skiing muscle group. Increase the resistance so it feels like you are climbing up a steep hill. Do this for 30 seconds every few minutes and try to build up to 60-second spurts at this higher intensity and resistance. Your thighs will feel the burn.

  • Do leg press and leg extension exercises. Slightly lower the weight and shoot for 25 reps to build endurance.

  • Skip rope and practice balance exercises like the yoga tree pose.

  • Work your core -- strong abs and trunk muscles protect your entire body and enhance overall durability.

In addition to being fit, there are other effective strategies to prevent ski injuries. Stay tuned for more in an upcoming blog entry.