Ski Fitness / Injury
Who and Why?
Jane Newman MSc BSc MMACP MCSP SRP is a fully qualified chartered sports physio, with 13 years of experience and 3 seasons working as a physio in the Alps, she knows what to look out for when it comes to ski injury prevention through to rehabilitation.
The article aims to give you a little advice on some of those questions you might have on fitness before your trip.
How can I get fit for skiing before my holiday?
It is not uncommon to suddenly go from a very sedentary lifestyle to a very active ski holiday where you spend most of the day on your feet. Not only will you enjoy your holiday a lot more with greater stamina and fitness and less thigh burn and aching, you will also help to prevent countless injuries. It is advisable to ensure you are cardiovascularly fit, your muscles are strengthened and flexible enough for the sport. Good cardiovascular exercise is swimming, cycling or running. Good strengthening work includes circuit training, squats, lunges, ski dips against the wall to name just a few. Don’t forget the flexibility – stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes especially.
What is the best kit to wear?
Layers so it is easy to remove a layer if you are too hot, a base layer that will wick away your sweat is advisable ( not cotton).
- Wind/water repellent outer layer
- Wrist protection if snowboarding
What exercises should I do before & after each ski day?
Warm up and cool down– walking to the slopes, thigh stretch, pole behind your back and under your arms rotating to the left and right to loosen your spine, gently swing your arms in large circles clockwise and anti-clockwise. Start the day with a few gentle runs.
What should I do if I get a ski injury on the slopes?
At the first sign of a new sporting injury, follow the RICER protocol:
- Rest – avoid excessive movement for 24 hours. Excessive movement can increase bruising and swelling. The use of crutches may be required.
- Ice – apply ice for 20 minutes every 2 hours for the first 72 hours. Do not apply the ice directly to the skin – make sure there is something (e.g. towel/cloth) between the ice and skin.
- Compression – bandages can be obtained from a pharmacy or physiotherapy clinic. Make sure the compression is not too tight to cut off circulation to the area.
- Elevation – try to keep the injured area above heart level for 10 minutes every hour or more.
- Referral – consult your therapist at the earliest convenience so that they can assess your injury and suggest the appropriate management for your return to 100% health. The earlier you seek treatment, the quicker your recovery. If you are unable to make an appointment that day, ring to speak to your therapist about management advice until you are able to make an appointment.
Sports injury: HARM factors
Avoid any of the HARM factors during the first 48 hours to prevent increased swelling and to help your recovery:
- No Heat – heat will increase swelling.
- No Alcohol – alcohol will increase bleeding and decrease healing.
- No Running – running will increase swelling.
- No Massage – especially in the first 24–48 hours. Massage over the site of the injury will increase swelling and bruising.
…in the initial 72 hours after a sporting injury, RICER and No HARM
If it is an injury where you feel it is too painful to move or you feel sick, dizzy or just not quite right. Call the mountain rescue team as appropriate to your specific trip/ location.