Ski and snowboard season is in full swing here in western Canada. While these winter sports can be a lot of fun, it’s important to remember that they are physically demanding activities. That means hitting the mountain in poor shape significantly reduces your effectiveness and increases your likelihood of injury.
In order to achieve optimum performance whether it's your first or last run of the season, it’s important to adopt a pre-ski conditioning program. While resistance training and aerobic exercise provide a great foundation, it’s important not to overlook the importance of flexibility and muscle health in your preparation routine. That’s why a regimen that includes stretching and massage can help ensure you ski stronger and longer while reducing your body’s post-slopes recovery time.
Stretching is a critical component of every high-quality ski or snowboard conditioning routine. That’s because increased flexibility allows your body to better absorb the bumps and jolts of rough terrain while reducing the risk of injury during falls. Plus, keeping muscles and tendons lengthened is a big factor in limiting recovery time.
While both skiing and snowboarding require most of your major muscle groups, your stretching routine should focus on the legs (quadriceps and hamstrings), hips, glutes, abdominals, and lower back. Snowboarders may want to spend a bit more time on the hip flexors given the significant amount of twisting and rotating their sport requires.
As for frequency, stretching for just one hour each week (20 minutes per session, 3 times a week) can yield great results. Once you’re on the mountain, a light stretch before you begin is recommended, however, one of the best times to stretch is right after your last run of the day. That’s because your muscles are warmed up and are experiencing increased blood flow, conditions that create a prime opportunity to significantly improve your flexibility. So before you grab a hot chocolate, try to squeeze in a brief (5 minute) post-ski stretching session. Your body will thank you.
The physiological and psychological benefits of massage therapy for athletes are well known, but many people believe massage is only for post-workout recovery. That’s understandable: massage enhances blood flow, which delivers fresh oxygen and nutrients to your muscles while promoting the removal of waste products and toxins. That leads to reduced tension, soreness, and inflammation, allowing your body to heal more quickly.
What many don’t realize is that massage can also be a great preparation tool for skiers and snowboarders. How? Well, muscles that are stressed, or in spasm, are significantly less effective than ones that are relaxed. A deep massage can help get your muscles and joints in prime condition, enabling you to take your skiing or snowboarding to another level.
If you need assistance with your stretching routine, or are looking for a soothing massage after a day on the slopes, get in touch with us today.