Wellness Wednesday: How to get your body ready to hit the slopes

SALT LAKE CITY - Ski season is just around the corner, but is your body ready? Skiing is a fun winter activity, but it can also take a toll on muscles and joints. A pre-season ski conditioning routine can keep both skiers and boarders on the hill and out of the emergency room.

“The demands of winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are different from those of summer sports, such as running, cycling, and golfing,” said physical therapy manager at Intermountain Park City Hospital, Marlene Hatch. “One way to avoid injury and optimize your performance is to do a sport specific strength and conditioning routine.”

An athletic trainer or physical therapist can determine if you have strength deficits or asymmetries, lack of mobility, inefficient movement patterns and overall lack of conditioning that may negatively impact on winter sports performance or make you prone to injury. Checking in with a trainer or physical therapist is also important for those who may still be recovering from a past injury.

Whether you are a seasoned skier/snowboarder or new to the sport, a pre-season conditioning routine can help you gain more confidence, strength, agility, and balance through key exercises for specific muscle groups:

• Quads– Skiers feel their quad muscles with every turn they carve. Rebuilding these muscles prior to a heavy snowfall, can lead to fewer injuries.
• Hamstrings – Strong hamstrings are equally important to having a safe day on the hill. Hamstring strength helps protect your ACL and counterbalance those quads.
• Abdominal muscles - A good strong core absorbs bumps, preventing an injury to the lower back, and helps maintain a good ski position.

It is also important for younger skiers to add this type of conditioning and cross training to a workout regimen. Doing only one type of workout or sport for too long can cause an imbalance in muscle strength that can lead to sprains, strains and overuse injuries.

Skiing and boarding require a full-body commitment, and certain exercise routines will help establish healthy conditioning habits with hopes of preventing injury this season.

Click here for more information about Intermountain Healthcare’s sports training services and to sign up for an upcoming conditioning class so you can prepare your body to hit the slopes this winter.

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