I know that growing up around here means skiing and snowboarding in the winter time. The problem is that most of us do not perform these activities year round. Winter sports are just that, WINTER SPORTS. This means that many of the muscles that we use for these activities have not been used since last year. I recall many times coming home the day after my first trip to the mountains for the year. I was definitely sore and only wanted to spend some time in the hot tub.
Besides muscle soreness, being up on the mountain skiing and/or snowboarding can leave the body vulnerable to many injuries all over the body. Without the right equipment or preparation, there is a litany of injuries that can occur:
Head and Spine:
Both the head and spine are vulnerable to injuries from falling while on the mountain. It is recommended that everyone should wear a helmet to help protect the head in the case of a fall or collision. Spinal injuries can also happen from a fall as well as poor core stabilization during the act of snowboarding or skiing.
The entire lower extremity is at risk for injuries when skiing. Ankles tend to be pretty safe due to the ski and/or snowboard boots and bindings, but because of the design, the knee can have more rotational force applied to it than it can handle. Good strengthening and conditioning of the muscles surrounding the knee can help lower the chance of damage to any of the knee ligaments (ACL, MCL, etc.).
The shoulders, arms, wrists and hands are at risk for injury mainly during a fall. It is a natural reaction to put your hands out to catch yourself and you can injure anything from the thumb all the way up to the shoulder.
It is always good to be prepared for all activities. Winter sports are unique in that most people will spend an entire day on the mountain. Think to yourself when the last time you spent an entire day using all of the muscles you use in skiing and snowboarding? I know that I don’t use those muscles for extended periods very often. We can still train ourselves to overcome some of the deficits. Most of us will still be sore following a day at the mountain.
Planks and Monster Walks are two very good exercises for preparing your body to deal with the rigors of snow sports.
Some light stretching at the end of the day can help maintain tissue elasticity in order to help limit delayed muscle onset soreness. It is always a good idea to stretch the legs (hamstrings, quadriceps, calves) and the low back (prayer stretch).