After a slow start to Winter, the snow continues to fall this January and you are probably eager to get back onto the ski hill. If you have experienced an injury in the past and are nervous about getting back on your skis, here are some guidelines and tools you can use to prepare yourself for your ski season to limit your chance of injury.

Start low and build slow

 The first day on the hill does not need to be your best day. In fact, if you are at all concerned about injury it is better to use the first day to ski well within your comfort range. Depending on your skill level, that may mean sticking to green runs, blue runs, or simply staying in-bounds. By sticking to runs that are within your comfort zone your body will be able to start to develop the strength in your quadriceps and other important muscles, as well as the small stabilizing muscles and ligaments that will make your body more resilient for future days on the hill.

Implement a mandatory rest day policy

If you are returning from an injury it is best to give your body some rest between days on the hill. Your body may need more time to recover if you are just getting back to skiing after an injury. Taking a few days off between ski days will allow your body to recover fully and increase the resiliency of your tissues over time, limiting your chances of injury. As much as you might like to ski all three days of your first ski weekend, the progressive fatigue and accumulation of stress on your muscles and joints makes you more prone to injury if your body has not had time to adapt to the specific loads that skiing applies to them.

Utilize a brace for temporary support

Along the same lines as the previous section, if you are returning from an injury your body will likely be less tolerant to the usual loads that skiing demands of it. At the beginning of the season using a brace or other supportive device can help provide that extra level of external support that can make up for the lack of muscular or joint strength that you need to regain. Ideally this will be a temporary aid that you can wean off of as the season progresses.

Strength training in the off-season

The best time to make your body more resilient for ski season is in the off-season. Spending time in the gym, lifting weights, engaging in plyometrics, and working on side-to-side strength and stability deficits can help make your body stronger and more prepared for the loads that go along with skiing. Now may not be the best time to start, but by strength training and engaging in other activities outside of ski season you will ensure your body is in the best shape to handle the rigours of being on the ski slopes in the winter.

Reach out for some personalized advice from a physiotherapist

Dealing with injury is a normal part of living an active lifestyle and you do not need to let it interfere with you participating in the activities you enjoy doing. If you are concerned about getting back on the ski hill and feel you need more guidance, come and see one of our experienced physiotherapists at Kamloops Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Centre to help get you set on the right path for this ski season.

This Blog post was written by Domenic Mercuri. Domenic is a Physiotherapist working out of our Downtown clinic location on Seymour Street.

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