Pre-ski fitness can protect against post-ski problems

Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:36pm EST
 

By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Skiing is a such a skill-based activity that if you don't start learning until you are 20, it will take 20 years to learn.

But fitness experts say proper conditioning can make the difference between a fun weekend on the slopes and one waylaid by injury.

"Skiing first is technique," said Robert Forster, a Los Angeles-based physical therapist and founder of Phase IV Scientific Health and Performance Center. "If your quads (muscles) are just burning up on the runs, then you're not skiing right. That's a good sign that you might need a lesson."

To minimize fatigue and risk of injury, Forster, physical therapist to 42 Olympic medalists, suggests getting in ski-shape before hitting the slopes.

"All fitness begins with an aerobic base," he said. "So six weeks before, start training with an elliptical trainer or stationary bike, or running or walking. Build up to 20 to 30 minutes three times a week."

Aerobic training also strengthens muscles, Forster said, so any subsequent agility drills, such as running sideways or skipping, will be even more effective if you've established an aerobic base.

Stretch before skiing to protect against injury and enhance freedom of motion; stretch afterward to return the muscles to their normal length, said Forster.

He calls stretching the single most important thing people can do for body health maintenance.   Continued...

 
A skier skis down a slope on a sunny autumn day in the western Austrian glacier ski resort of Soelden, some 100km (62 miles) west of Innsbruck, November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler