Skiing – fresh air, exercise and glorious views, what more could anyone ask of a holiday? Don’t forget that a ski holiday asks a great deal of your body in return, and preparation will really pay off.
All those with ski holidays booked will be very excited to see the first snow reports of the season, the signs that winter sports can really begin. It is time to pull the ski clothing out of the wardrobe, and for those planning a trip it is definitely time to look at their fitness. In the run up to a trip with extra pressure at work, it is all too easy to let fitness slip down the list. With a ski holiday coming up, this is the last thing that you should do.
Why do I need to be fitter? It is a holiday!
A ski holiday makes unusual demands on your body – the actions required for skiing or snowboarding are completely different from most of the other things that we do. With the high costs of skiing, most people want to make the most of it and will be skiing hard all day. Even those who are beginners will be working hard to get to grips with the new skill.
Skiing may look easy - but this is far from the case. It needs strong muscles, stamina and balance. Skiers can be working hard one minute and then standing still in a lift queue the next, getting cold and risking muscle strains. At the top of the lift it is all too easy to head straight off again.
With only a limited time for the holiday, it can be very hard to follow the usual advice to build up gradually and take things steadily. The time pressure is one of the leading causes of ski injuries, with the fourth day of the holiday being the peak time as tiredness takes over and skiers get careless.
What could go wrong?
Skiers fall over, and sometimes fall over at speed. A crash into soft snow may be more amusing than painful, but catching ski edges or crossing skis will flip you over in a nasty twisting motion. Your joints are very vulnerable, and need strong muscles to support and protect them.
A ski injury will wreck your expensive holiday and may mean that there will be no more ski trips, so working on your fitness in the months before the holiday is very important.
OK, you convinced me. What type of exercises do I need to do?
The particular areas on which to concentrate include:
So I’m ready. How do I look after myself on the holiday?
In the excitement to hit the first slope of the day, don’t forget that you are exercising and need to warm up. (For more on the importance of warmth, see this article). Walking in ski boots and carrying skis should get the blood pumping, but if you then spend time sitting on a chair lift you will undo all the good work. Even a heated gondola isn’t enough to prepare muscles for exercise. So at the top of the lift, get out of the way of the traffic and spend a few minutes warming up. Given that you will be in ski wear and boots, suitable exercises include:
You may feel a bit silly, but it will all pay off. With muscles warm, on with the skis and off you go!
Too many ski injuries are caused by ‘just one more run’. If your knees are hurting and your quads quivering, it is time to head for home. All skiers know that late afternoon runs need to be planned round lift closure times, but also consider the last downhill session. Don’t make it beyond your capabilities and don’t be afraid to leave the group early if you are tired.
Once back at your accommodation, spend a few moments doing gentle stretches while you are still warm. Then all you have to do is put away that soggy ski kit and head for a hot bath or shower.
Finally – make sure you know and follow the skiers’ ‘highway code’, which lists the simple common-sense measures. These include not stopping in the middle of the piste and skiing with respect to others. Never ski when intoxicated and give serious consideration to wearing a helmet.
Enjoy your skiing – it is one of the things for which winter was made!