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Train for the slopes

Posted on 1st Nov 2018 by

Ski holiday goPhysio

Skiing and snowboarding are a fantastic form of exercise, challenging both our muscles and our cardio vascular system in an extremely enjoyable way. Both require a significant amount of strength and endurance to stay on the slopes for the duration of holiday.  Unfortunately, most of us have not prepared enough in advance to meet the demands of what is required.

Most of the injuries we see in the clinic throughout the year are not as a result of a sudden traumatic injury, like a big fall leading to a broken bone. Instead, the most common injuries are a result of an imbalance between the loads/stresses we put through our body versus their ability to tolerate that load.  The level of tolerance we have is variable and is constantly changing in adaption to our current activity levels.  For example, a marathon runner training to do a marathon can gradually adapt to slowly building their weekly mileage over the training program so that they can tolerate the full 26.2 miles.  If they then don’t run for a few months they wouldn’t be able to run another marathon again without have to train again as their level of tolerance would slowly ebb away leaving them prone to an injury.

Exactly the same applies to skiing and boarding injuries. 

Now unfortunately, the UK doesn’t have many mountains to get some regular practice on!  This means that skiing/snowboarding tends to be something we don’t do all year then suddenly we go away and are on the mountain for 5 hours or so for 6 days a week straight.  That is a dramatic and sudden change in the load and demands we put through our body.  This increase in demand can cause the tissues to become sensitive and painful.  This then causes them to lose tolerance (their ability to cope)  and can mean that everyday activities can start to aggravate them further (more commonly known as an overuse injury). Such injuries then tend to become a vicious cycle of pain, rest, recover, start exercising again, pain, rest………a cycle that needs to be broken to avoid you having to limit what you do and have a life impacted by recurrent pain.

The good news is, you can do a lot to prevent getting such an injury on the slopes. 

Whilst it is difficult to practice skiing/snowboarding in advance of going (there are indoor slopes and dry skiing slopes around, which we encourage you to visit in advance to get used to the demands) you can still take measures to reduce the risks of such overuse injuries. By training your body in another way, we can help give it the ability to deal with the demands that we are likely to put through it over the course of the holiday. 

Over the course of a week, just imagine what physical demands are placed on your body during such a physical task such as skiing or snowboarding?!

To prepare for this, you can increase your body’s ability to cope with those increased demands by strengthening and conditioning your body, which will increase it’s tolerance levels. The best way of doing this is through doing specific strengthening exercises.  Whilst bodyweight exercises are a good start, the ideal method would be through resistance training using weights or resistance machines.

However, the weights area of a gym can be a daunting place if you’ve never used weights before, and even if you have, what are the best exercises to do? What muscles or areas should you target for skiing or boarding? How many repetitions? How many sets? It can all be very confusing!

Let us help you!

Here at goPhysio we’ve set up a specialist exercise programme aimed at getting you prepared for skiing/snowboarding and giving you an introduction into strength training in a friendly, supportive and knowledgeable environment. 

If you’re interested in getting the most out of your holiday, now’s the time to start! (You’d be shocked to hear how many people come in 5 days before their holiday with a knee injury they’ve had for 6 months, wanting us to wave a magic wand!!)

  1. Your first session will be a 1-2-1 Snow Start Up Session. In this practical 1 hour session, Physio Chris will find out more about you and your skiing or boarding level, any injuries or concerns, your fitness and holiday plans. From this he will create a bespoke, guided exercise programme for you to do at goPhysio over the following weeks. This session will be led by Physio Chris, who has previously worked with British ParaSnowSport, bringing his experience into selecting the most suitable exercises to getting you ready for the slopes.
  2. 5 x 1 hour Practical Sessions During each of your 5 following 1 hour practical sessions, you will work on your program alongside 2 other attendees, in our fully equipped Strong Room. This will be under the guidance and supervision of one of our Sports & Rehabilitation Therapists, who will be on hand to adjust your exercises, add new challenges and monitor your progress. You can do 1 session a week or 2 sessions a week – we can be flexible to accommodate your timings!
  3. Review Once you’ve come to the end of your 5 sessions, Physio Chris will carry out a review of your progress, and support you with your goals from there!

This package costs £210 (payable in advance) and you can book your Snow Start Up by calling 023 8025 3317.

Want to read more about skiing or snowboarding injuries? Take a look at these other articles:

The benefit of Pilates for winter sports

5 Tips to Survive the Slopes this Winter

More about Physio Chris and his Snowsport experience


 

 


The Benefit Of Pilates For Winter Sports

Posted on 8th Jan 2018 by

Winter is upon us and with that, ski and boarding seasons are in fill swing!

We get lots of enquiries at the clinic about how best to prepare for skiing holidays and how to prevent the worst from happening with injuries.

In today’s blog, we’ll look at why preparing for your ski or snow boarding holiday is important and what Pilates is – if you haven’t come across it before

Ski holidays are a big commitment, both physically and financially. They are also time limited, so most people ski around 6-8 hours a day for 5-7 days in a row. This can be a huge increase in demands on your body if you normally sit in an office all day!

Pilates can help to prepare you for the slopes in many ways:

  • Helps to prepare the body for intense period of exercise
  • Reduces the risk of injuries
  • Improves fitness
  • Addresses muscle imbalances
  • Helps you make the most of your holiday!

Pilates is a low impact form of exercise, usually mat based, that centres around the idea of maintaining a strong ‘core’ during dynamic movement patterns. It works on improving balance, flexibility, muscle strength and posture. It incorporates elements of yoga, martial arts and Western forms of exercise.

So how does having a well trained ‘core’ help me on the slopes? 

There are 4 key elements that will help you during your time on the slopes – Posture, Alignment, Control & Muscle Balance.

I’m sure you’ve seen it before, some people struggle to even stay upright! During this struggle their muscles are so tense and working so hard to keep them upright, thinking about posture goes out of the window!

Posture

A crucial part of winter sports is how you stand on your skis or board.

Incorrect posture will force your body to work much harder than it needs to, which is really inefficient. So, you’ll find that some of your muscles will tire much more quickly and your body will generally fatigue.

When you’re on your skis or board, your posture needs to be stable, yet easily adaptable to the dynamic nature of snow sports.

Pilates helps posture by educating the right postural muscles for you. It teaches postural muscles to work effectively and efficiently.

Alignment

This follows on from posture. Alignment is the relationship in your body between key areas like your head, shoulders, pelvis, hips, knees & ankles. So, if you were drawing a line between these key points like a dot to dot – there will be good and not so good patterns of alignment.

Learning to align your body in its optimal position, will reduce the strain on joints and muscles. Correct alignment will improve your control and balance.

We take it for granted, thinking our body will naturally do this, but a lifetime of postural stresses, injuries, sitting at desks, driving etc. will effect our optimal alignment. We may have tight weak muscles or even some that don’t ‘switch on’ when they’re needed.

Pilates really works to optimise your alignment, teaching all those bits of your body to work efficiently in relationship to each other. Being conscious of your alignment will carry over to your time on the slopes and you will reap the benefits in efficiency, endurance and preventing injury.

Control

Being able to control your body effectively allows you to make small changes without over or under compensating. This skill is vital in skiing and boarding. Reduced control results in working harder than you need to, overstraining the body.

All the moves and exercises in Pilates will challenge and educate body control. Practising control off the slopes will help it become second nature when you’re on the slopes! Let’s face it, when you’re hurtling down a slippery mountain with an equally slippery piece of equipment attached to your feet, a bit of control is a nice thing to have!

Muscle Balance

Muscle imbalances are common throughout the body and don’t always result in a problem. But if your body is being put under greater prolonged physical stress (like a week skiing!), imbalances can become problematic. Weak muscles can be forced to use increased tone or tension to help support them, which increases their work load. Other muscles can work overtime to try and compensate. As skiing/boarding is a whole body exercise, it’s important to address any imbalances you may have.

Pilates is a great form of exercise to do this, that really works the whole body. When practising Pilates exercises you can quickly find out which areas are weak or tight!! It will really teach those ares to work and address any compensations your body is making.

So, how exactly can Pilates can help prevent injuries and keep me safe during my trip!

All of the points above are vital injury prevention tips – correct posture and alignment, better control and well balanced muscles will all reduce the risk of injury.

Any area of the body can be injured when skiing, as it’s a whole body sport. This includes joints, bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons. An injury can vary from a minor muscle strain to a major bone/joint injury such as fracture or dislocation.

Pilates specifically can help you:

  • Maintain control
  • Improve balance – reducing the risk of falling
  • Distribute the load evenly throughout your body – reducing the risk of overworked muscles
  • Increase your flexibility – helping you maintain the correct posture and stance
  • Improve your dynamic movement control – allowing you to adapt to your terrain

Pilates will give you the skills needed to have a safe and enjoyable time away – plus it’s a great form of exercise all year round! The benefits are transferrable to everyday life and exercise too, not just extreme winter sports.

If you’re interested in experiencing for yourself how Pilates can benefit you, come and join one of our classes. We run an extensive timetable of classes, including daytime, evening and Saturday mornings – with a range of levels to suit all.

The goPhysio Team also have some top tips to help reduce the risk of injury on the slopes

Fiona – Listen to your body! Don’t keep going if you feel like you need a break.

Kim – Get any pre-exisiting injuries treated BEFORE you go – don’t leave it until the last minute! You really wouldn’t believe the number of people we see at the clinic a few days before they’re due to go skiing, who’ve had an injury for ages and call us in desperation (normally looking for a knee brace to solve their problem!). Think ahead!!

Paul – Pace yourself throughout the day and have regular breaks to top up energy levels with a hot chocolate!

Francesca – Just in case……make sure you have some insurance to cover any injuries or illnesses while you’re away.

We hope you have a safe & happy holiday!

p.s. Obviously, some injuries are totally unavoidable. So if you do find yourself heading home not quite in one piece, we’re here to help you recover too. You can book an appointment online or give us a call. We aim to offer you an appointment within 24 hours, if not the same day so you can get sorted without delay. All our team are keen skiers or boarders, so know exactly what you’re talking about.