Ah, ski trips. Sure, in your mind, you’re basically Shaun White, zipping down the mountain at light speed, maybe popping a few sweet tricks along the way. And when you’ve had enough of impressing the shit out of everyone, you’re back at the lodge, sipping on a single malt before you join a bevy of beautiful ski bunnies in the sauna. But the reality may be slightly different. That’s why we’ve done all the work for you and compiled this ultimate guide to help you live out your snowy fantasy while upping your fitness level and avoiding injury. See you at the bottom.
The most common injury on the slopes is skier’s thumb, ligament damage that accounts for 8% – 10% of injuries and is caused by falling the wrong way while gripping ski poles, or jamming a thumb into packed snow at high velocity. Other bodily harm commonly suffered on the slopes includes knee ligament injury, snowboarder’s ankle, wrist fractures and head and spinal injuries. The chance of injury can be greatly reduced by preparing for the trip a few days in advance, which will also ensure a better, more confident, time in the snow.
“Even if you’re reasonably fit most of the time, it doesn’t mean all your muscles are ready for the demands of skiing and snowboarding,” says Falls Creek ski instructor Nick Rankin. “Getting your core ready is what it’s all about.”
“Prepare by doing some stretching and strength training a few weeks ahead of your trip.
“If possible, start preparing at least six weeks in advance. ‘The longer time you have, the better you’ll be on the slopes. So, get to the gym.”
Do push-ups, leg lunges, squats, rotating lunges, forward and back leg swings, ham string stretches, sit-ups and lift weights. This improves core and leg strength.
Flexibility is Key
“Be sure to improve your flexibility,” says Nick.
“I recommend doing some yoga or Pilates before you hit the slopes. By putting your body in different positions, your muscles are better prepared in case you fall in the snow and they’re again put in unusual positions.”
Increased flexibility “could make the difference between no injury, and a serious sprain, if you fall.”
We’ve all seen those sad souls hobbling about the resort in a moon boot or neck brace, staring wistfully up the slopes as their better-conditioned buddies slalom down the black runs.
Burning Down the Slopes
Snow lovers will agree that being on the slopes is the most enjoyable way to burn calories with your clothes on. Six hours skiing or snowboarding a day can burn 2400 to 3000 calories, on top of a person’s normal daily expenditure. Moderate skiing burns up about 400 calories an hour; while uphill cross-country skiing can demolish up to 1000 calories an hour. But don’t be a speed demon – or risk being towed away in one of those humiliating little sled cocoons led by a man with a white cross on his red anorak. “I tell anyone who’s not an expert to go 10 per cent slower than they want to go,’ says Nick. “That saves a lot of accidents!”
He also advises to always keep an eye out for other skiers entering your realm from any direction. It’s a bit like knowing the road rules.
“Less experienced skiers and snowboarders don’t have a great spatial sense, of how far away from others they need to be.”
Adequate warm-up, fitness, correct technique, alertness and skiing or snowboarding within our limits should ensure a fine holiday is had.
Get The Right Gear
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XTM Method Snow Pants
Featuring articulated knees and a brushed tricot lining, these pants will keep you comfortable without inhibiting your range of movement.
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XTM Half Pipe socks
You lose a lot of heat through your feet, but you can guard against that with these soft, ergonomic socks that also feature shin padding.
Helly Hansen Swift 3 jacket
The innovative H Flow system will keep you dry, warm or cool, depending on the outside conditions. You’ll never need another jacket.
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Helly Hansen HT gloves
With goat-skin leather, waterproof Helly Tech and 3M Thinsulate, your digits will be well protected from the harsh elements.
XTM Bolt boots
Heavy-duty nylon and a waterproof membrane plus superb insulation, mean these bad boys are rated to a very chilly -20 degrees celsius.