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So, you’ve done a bit of googling or been told to do lots of squats before your ski holiday. Are you prepared for a week on the slopes? In this blog, we look at what your body really needs in preparation for a ski holiday.
Yes, squats will improve your quad strength in a specific range. Those dreaded squats leaning with your back on the wall will induce a similar quad burn to that which you get on a long run down, but, what is this exercise actually doing and is what you need to benefit your ski performance? You will all be delighted to hear the answer is no! Hooray.
Let’s talk about squats, particularly the traditional wall squat people do frantically before they hit the slopes. The position, with back against a wall, forces your weight on to your heels. For those that haven’t skied before, this is not where your weight should be! If you lean back on your skis you have less control and it’s much harder to turn and to stop whilst it compromises your knee position, making it vulnerable to injury.
The second limitation of this exercise is that it is static. In skiing you are in a squat like position but you are constantly moving and transferring your weight from one leg to the other. If you stay in a static position, which is what you have trained your body and your brain with by doing your wall squat, then you lose the ability to load the ski when you turn and you won’t be able to grip the edge of the ski, especially on ice. This massively reduces your ability to control your ski’s and can lead to injuries. It will also be way less enjoyable too!
So, if wall squats are out, what should you be doing to prepare yourself? I talked in my last blog about fatigue. Any cardiovascular exercise that you enjoy be it running, swimming, classes at the gym, will all train your heart and lungs and help you to be more efficient in the mountains with less fatigue.
There are of course other aspects of fitness that are important and specific to help you ski such as trunk control, strength, flexibility, agility, balance, reaction times and concentration. This will involve a little more effort than a static wall squat however but is much more interesting and fun and will absolutely help you way more on the slopes. Ski specific circuit training is a way to tick all the above boxes and is something we will be running at Quay Physio in 2018! In the meantime, book yourself in for Pilates and Yoga to prepare your body for this ski season 17-18.
Finally, if you have any preexisting niggles get them assessed and treated before you go skiing to prevent unnecessary discomfort or potential injuries whilst away. Whether it’s a niggly knee, back, neck or any other part of your body, you can easily consciously or subconsciously be worried about falling and making it worse. Any protective or compensatory strategies you adopt can have large implications on other areas because of the vast amount of connections that exist in the body. Often niggles when you ski are due to you not loading your body in an optimal way over your base of support and ski. Poor technique can also cause niggles so it may be worth getting a lesson on day 2 once your have found your ski legs. But, the best thing to do is make an appointment with a Physio before you go to address both loading and technique issues. It will also put your mind at rest so you can enjoy your holiday without your usual mammoth doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen!
If you are running out of time do to this before you go then make an appointment with a Physio when you are away to keep any underlying niggles under control and avoid any problems. If you are lucky enough to be coming out to the Three Valleys I’m here so give me a call or email. Most other resorts have British Physio’s but do check their qualifications first. If a Physio isn’t around perhaps book a massage or be extra vigilant with your stretching whilst away. Alternatively, get in a pool or hot tub each evening to ease your muscle aches away. You will be surprised and delighted to find out what just a little effort after skiing each day can do to help your body recover for the next.