How to prepare your body for winter sports and avoid injuries

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With Winter just around the corner, many will be seeking activities and winter sports to partake in.

However fun this may be, it is important to prepare your body for the cold season and, of course, the endless fun! As winter sports do receive a high rate of injuries, it is only smart to be correctly prepared.

Achieve Physiotherapy have listed a few training tips and, following that, for the avid skiers, a pre-skiing training programme.

Toy Soldiers

Many winter sports require you to use your leg muscles more frequently than the other muscles as you trek your way through the snow. It is important to do stretching exercises to give your muscles more flexibility, specifically your hamstrings.

Practice Toy Soldiers to give your muscles flexibility: standing upright, stretch out your left arm keeping it level with your shoulder, then raise your right leg without bending the knee and move your outstretched arm to touch your toe. Switch sides for 10-12 reps, taking steps between.

Step-ups

Next is strengthening the leg muscles, focusing on your quads and glutes. Building up your muscle strength is just as important and keeping them flexible. To do this you can do sets of step-ups to build strength and aid your balance and coordination – don’t be afraid to mix in some cardio training by increasing the length of sets and moving faster.

Exercise Ball Hamstring Curls

Another exercise to work the hamstrings and the glutes is using an exercise ball to complete hamstring curls. Lying down on your back, with your arms straight and palms up, place your feet on the exercise ball and pull it towards you while in a bridge position.

Planks

The core is crucial when participating in winter sports. Strengthening your core will provide you with a good centre of balance during your winter sports activities. You can do planks and side planks to give your core a workout.

Superman’s

Your lower back will be put to the test in winter sports, mostly from taking hits on the ice. To perform a ‘superman’, begin by lying down on your stomach and stretching your arms out in front of you. Then lift up your arms and your upper body, keeping the neck in a neutral position, raise your legs, keeping your ankles together and hold for a few seconds. Repeat for a length of 30 seconds.

Moving on to preventing winter sports injuries when partaking in skiing, you can follow a set of rules as listed below:

  • Take up training activities so keep your body fit
  • Use the correct binding settings for you weight
  • Ensure boot soles are free of grit and compacted snow
  • Use the correct techniques

Pre-skiing training should begin at least 6 weeks in advance to your trip, putting in training sessions 2-3 times a week. A good pre-skiing training programme are circuits; see the following training circuits for a guideline of what you can do to prepare your body.

Strength

  • x50 squats
  • x20 lunges
  • Stair climbing/step-ups
  • x40 wall squats
  • Cardio exercise (minimum of 20 minutes each exercise, up to 3 times a week)
  • Walking/brisk walking
  • Swimming

Balance

  • Single legged squats with eyes closed (2 minutes)
  • x20 side hops, feet together
  • x20 single legged jumps, alternate to other leg

Stretching

  • Calf muscles
  • Hamstrings (back of thighs)
  • Quadriceps (front of thighs)

Bear in mind stretching your muscles should not be a painful experience, you should only feel a gentle pull when stretching.

When stepping out to your first skiing session, it pays to mentally prepare yourself for the day, you will then be able to have a rough idea of what exercises you can do to prepare your body e.g. warm up runs. At the end of the day, take the time to stretch out all the muscles, perhaps by going for a gentle walk.

As a general rule, ensure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day and are wearing the correct protective gear, for safety if anything. If you can feel your body becoming fatigued, take a break or quit.

If you have suffered any sports injuries, Achieve Physiotherapy can help you get back into shape and you’ll have full confidence that we will provide you with the necessary support.
To speak to a physio in Birmingham, contact us at info@achievephysiotherapy.co.uk or on 0121 514 8866.