HAVING spent four seasons working in Niseko Physio, I’ve seen a wide cross section of snow- sports injuries walk (or limp) through our doors.
It has been said that in a ski resort everyone using crutches is a skier and everyone with their arm in a sling is a snowboarder. There is a certain amount of truth to this. So how can you avoid getting injured on your dream holiday?
One of the things I’ve noticed is skiers who are physically strong, fit and agile tend to get injured less than people who live a more sedentary lifestyle. Strengthening the legs to get them prepared for the rigours of a day on the mountain is one of the best preventative steps you can take.
Signing up to Get Fit to Ski or interval/circuit classes is a great idea as they are run by professionals with a good understanding of the specific demands that skiing and snowboarding places on the body.
Cycling is also a good way to prepare for the winter.
There is no coincidence that Levi Leipheimer and many professional cyclists grew up in ski towns, and that Team Niseko quickly rose to become the second strongest amateur-cycle club in Hokkaido. Cycling places very similar demands on the legs to skiing and snowboarding and muscle strength transfers very well between the sports.
When cycling to get the legs stronger, lock in the big ring at the front and the small ring at the back (biggest gear possible) so you’ll be riding with a low cadence, below 85 rpm. This places the stress more on the legs than the lungs (and you’ll look cooler than the high-cadence spinner-boys too). However, cycling does not train lateral movement, so it’s a great idea to play a sport involving a ball, moving object or uneven training ground. This will make you more reactive when on your skis or snowboard so you’ll be able to take the strain in your thighs rather than your knees.
For snowboarders the single most important preventative step you can take is to wear a wrist guard. Look for one that is longer and with a degree of flexibility.
For all skiers and boarders – ski within your capabilities and hopefully I’ll only see you on the mountain, not in the clinic.