The luxury of skiing without pain…is it even possible?
The perfect scenery: beautiful luxurious mountains, stunning views and infinite ski tracks. And that’s how it happens that after going up and down all day from one track to another there you are, in the evening or the next morning, with sore legs that almost prevent you from walking.
If you’re a fan of skiing, this is an experience you have inevitably found out for yourself, especially if you usually only ski during the holidays and don’t always prepare with a proper pre-ski workout before putting on boots and skis.
So before you start heading off, aching and wobbling, towards your aprés-ski cocktail party, read on and get to fully enjoy the pleasures of winter mountain lifestyle.
How to prepare for your first ski in the snow
A simple preparation with a Physiotherapist or personal trainer in the weeks leading up to a ski trip, as well as doing exercises while on your holiday, can help improve your ski performance and help avoid strains and pains.
Pre-ski workouts will concentrate on training and optimising the body’s biomechanics and proprioception as well as increasing muscle flexibility, strength and power.
The best way to prevent pain and injuries is also by not getting caught up in a hurry during the actual holidays, and by taking a few minutes every morning to do a good warm up before facing the first slope.
Warm up exercises are usually taught during pre-ski training programs, and are the best way to avoid pain and injuries. You should usually include:
– leg swings
– hip rotations
– arm rotations
– lunges, with or without your poles
– hip openers
A bit of soreness after skiing is natural
First of all, it must be said that skiing, as any kind or sport, requires the use of specific muscles that we don’t usually use in our usual every day activities. Muscles recruited during skiing are therefore inevitably going to be strained as they mainly train with practice.
So, despite a good pre-ski physiotherapy program, unless you’re a passionate year-round skier, a hint of soreness in the legs, arms and back are unavoidable during the very first days on the snow.
But how can we reduce these side effects and continue enjoying the slopes?
With some small tricks that take a few minutes at the end of the day.
Stretch and soothe the muscles
Stretching after skiing allows you to recover better. After a day on the snow, the first thing you should do is take ten minutes to do some light stretching, preferably as soon as you’re out of your skis. Stretching accelerates recovery processes by bringing the length of the muscles to their natural condition.
Soaking in a hot tub, treating yourself to a deep-tissue massage, or signing up for a yoga or stretch class in your apres-ski afternoons can be very powerful tools to help you back on your legs.
Detox and get rid of that lactic acid
The muscle soreness may also be caused by the presence of lactic acid, which normally disappears after a few hours in a natural way.
However, a mild physical activity like a swim in the pool, if you have access to a spa, or even a relaxing walk help vascularisation of tissues and accelerate the disposal of lactic acid.
Research has also repeatedly shown that sweating in a sauna can help detoxify, increase circulation and improve blood oxygenation. High oxygen levels can also assist in the elimination of toxic agents in the blood. There is a good reason for which the best ski hotels have a sauna, so by all means, take advantage and use it!
Drinking and rehydrating
Another aspect not to be underestimated for an effective recovery of muscular strain is that of rehydration: thirst is often the last thing you feel while skiing, and so it happens you get to the evening without drinking a drop of water. Yet salts and fluids have been abundantly expelled during the day. Drinking plenty water after skiing helps muscle recovery as well as hydration.
The meaning of “day-after” muscle pain
If muscle pain turns up the next morning, it is usually due to a typical case of delayed onset muscle soreness and it in these cases associated to micro-lesions in the muscle caused by eccentric muscular contractions. The pain usually appears between 14 and 72 hours after exercise, and usually passes within a few days. It means that you have really exceeded in terms of exercise, but it is usually just a question of having a little patience until the body recovers with its natural healing processes.
And by the way, once you’ve prepared to avoid pain and injuries…
Skiing is really good for you!
While you speed down the mountain, you can be further satisfied by the reassurance that the physical exertion of skiing (or, as a matter of fact, even just carrying your skis to the lift at the beginning and end of each day) will also give you an excellent cardiovascular workout as it gets your heart pumping and increases blood flow around the body.
Boosts your Mood
All forms of physical activity are a great trigger for improving your mood thanks to the endorphins your body releases during exercise. However, the added adrenaline rush and breath-taking views of skiing work wonders on your state of mind by boosting your mood and enhancing well-being.
Increases your Vitamin D levels
The altitudes of ski resorts mean that you are guaranteed sunnier days which will provide a winter’s dose of vitamin D to help boost your immune system and help improve your overall well-being.
Helps loose weight
You can burn up to 3,000 calories a day on the slopes as the exercise and the colder temperatures cause your body to burn that extra amount of calories. You can lose up to 5lbs from a week’s skiing, making it a great and fun solution for a weight loss holiday.