With international travel off the cards for many Melbourne families, when we chat to our patients about the holidays they’re looking forward to this year, there’s a favourite one on the cards: their first, or next, family ski holiday. But while our patients may be ticking off the packing list for their ski gear, there’s one important thing many forget to get ready for the snow: their bodies.
As podiatrists that focus on treating and preventing a range of foot and leg injuries here at Sole Motion, today we’ve shared five simple ways that you can get your body ready to have a great ski trip – minus the pain and injuries.
By ski muscles, we just mean the muscles you’ll be engaging most while on the slopes. This can differ depending on whether you’re a skier or a snowboarder – or what you plan to try on the mountain if it’s your first time.
Skiers spend a large time in a squat-like position when headed downhill. They need strong core muscles to help stabilise their spine and pelvis, hamstrings and quads to assist regular knee bending as well as leg flexion and extension. They need strong lower leg muscles as they constantly evert the feet to get the skis on their edges, and glutes – that stabilise and support many of the other muscles and are vital for skiing.
Snowboarders are constantly making turns and switching their boards from their heel edge to their toe edge. While they use the quads, hamstrings and glutes to help keep the knees bent, shock being absorbed and balance optimised, the calves will really be the ones feeling the burn as they keep turning and help control movement at the ankles, holding a strong edge in the snow.
Don’t forget the upper body too – while skiers use ski poles and need good upper body strength to manage these, snowboarders (particularly if you’re still learning) tend to use their arms a lot more to get themselves off the ground after falling and must sit to re-strap their board before every run.
Snowsports require a lot of stamina, endurance and cardiovascular fitness – and this shouldn’t be underestimated. While we may rely on gravity to help us get down the runs, there are plenty of flats for skiers to cross ski, and for boarders who come to a stop to push themselves along with one strap unbuckled. Alternatively, snowboarders may choose to remove their boards and walk the flat areas of the piste if they lose their speed – which when combined with the weight of the board, boots and ski gear, can quickly become quite tiresome.
Snowsports notoriously test your joints, their strength and their flexibility hard. Joints that are restricted and inflexible mean a much higher risk of injuries and pain – from minor tears to full-on tendon ruptures. So incorporating a solid stretching program is a must pre-ski holiday. Remember:
Have an existing calf injury, getting pains or niggles in your knee, or know that your ankle isn’t as strong as it used to be? Protect them before there’s a chance for any injuries to resurface or worsen on the slopes. Use strapping, compression gear – even consider knee guards if you’re a new snowboarder who is going to be constantly getting up and down from their knees. Seek advice from your podiatrist around injury prevention.
If you’re not sure about the best strapping techniques or how to best help prevent injuries, book an appointment and our podiatrists can show you exactly what to do, when.
This one is just as important on the slopes as it is beforehand – but always remember that pain and discomfort never happen for no reason. If you’re experiencing pain either on the slopes or in your daily life before your trip, something is happening to cause it, whether it’s a muscle that has been strained that isn’t getting a chance to heal and repair, weakness in a joint or ligament that can’t handle the forces that joint is being exposed to, or something else. When your body is giving you clear signs that something isn’t working quite right, and you continue to load your body in the same way, there’s often only one way it ends: with a full-blown injury, significant pain, or both.
If you’re currently experiencing pain or niggles that you know don’t feel right – or something goes wrong on your ski trip and you want it sorted before it gets worse, our experienced team of podiatrists are here to help. We’re proud to be keeping our community here in Point Cook on their feet and moving without pain so they can keep doing the things they love – whether that’s a trip to the snow or a walk to the supermarket to get marshmallows and hot cocoa this winter.
If you need help from a passionate, dedicated and caring podiatry team – give us a call on 1300 FX FEET today – or book your appointment online here.