It’s ski season! Do you have a trip coming up? If you don’t normally work out, it’s a good idea to get in shape beforehand. Just as you should train for a marathon, you should also train for your ski/snowboard trip. You would ideally start several weeks in advance, exercising 3-4 times a week. Otherwise, you might get too sore during or after the trip. Worse yet, you’ll be more prone to injury.
The most common injuries for both recreational skiers and snowboarders are shoulder dislocation, collar bone fracture, and concussion. Skiing puts you more at risk for knee (ACL, MCL, meniscus) injuries and thumb sprain. Snowboarders are more likely to get a wrist fracture or ankle sprain/fracture. (Source: Current Sports Medicine Reports18(11):394-400, November 2019.)
Obviously, wearing protective gear during snow sports and learning proper ski/snowboard techniques will help prevent some of these injuries. At the very least, wear a helmet even if you don’t think you’ll fall. You never know if a snowboarder coming off of a jump might accidentally crash onto your head (True story- this happened to a friend while we were on a ski trip). Knee pads, hip pads, and wrist guards can be helpful if you’re prone to falling, especially for snowboarding.
Training for your ski trip should involve strengthening your entire body with an exercise schedule that alternates different muscle groups, allowing each muscle group at least 1 day of rest. For example, if you do a leg workout on Monday, you should focus on an abdominal or arm workout on Tuesday before going back to a lower body workout on Wednesday. Each workout should start with a warm-up period of dynamic stretching and end with a cool-down period of sustained stretching (see my August 2019 article “Stretching For A Workout”).
An example of a leg workout would be:
- A warm-up period of 15 minutes on a bicycle.
- Squats (3 sets of 10 squats with 1 minute rest between each set. Make sure you have proper form with knees aligned over feet)
- Leg press or knee extension machine (3 sets of 15 repetitions)
- Leg curls (3 sets of 15 repetitions)
- Balance training such as heel raises and single leg squats on a BOSU ball, balance board, or soft pad
- Plyometric exercises (lateral skater jumps, squat jumps, hopscotch) 3 sets of 10 repetitions
- Cool down with sustained stretching of hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves.
An example of an upper body workout would be:
- Warm-up with 20 jumping jacks and arm circles (10 circles forward, 10 circles backward)
- 3 sets of 10 repetitions with 1 minute rest between sets for the following exercises:
- Rows or reverse fly/bent-over fly
- Bicep curls
- Tricep dips
- Lat pulldowns
- Cool down with sustained stretching of shoulders, upper back, chest, triceps
For tips on specific workout elements and proper technique/form, personal trainers and physical therapists are great resources.
Take home points for preventing injury (TL;DR):
- Train to get in shape before a ski/snowboard trip.
- Warm up and cool down with each workout. Have proper form with exercises.
- Wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding
- Consider wearing wrist guards if you’re a beginner skier or snowboarder. Add knee and hip pads if you’re a beginner snowboarder
- Be safe and have fun!