As the snow continues to fall across the Alps…here’s some pre-slope preparation advice

By Tom Marien, Founder, One Element and Caitlin Bentley, Sports Rehab Therapist, Physio Edge

With the ski season having its best start in years and snow continuing to fall across the alps, and whether you’re coming on the One Element ski trip to Morzine in March or you have your own trip booked, we thought it would be a great time to think about some pre-ski training and prehabilition.

The majority of skiing injuries, in fact all sports injuries, are due to a lack of conditioning and strengthening of not only muscles, but also ligaments and bones.

As Caitlin’s old lecturer would describe it: “your bones move and your muscles react”. Humans are incredibly intelligent and adaptable, and we have developed numerous mechanisms to manage our niggling injuries. This means our bones and muscles may react and align themselves in different ways to try and make us as efficient as possible under the circumstances. However, in the long-term, this can lead to the development of secondary pathologies, and with skiing, can predispose you to some very common injuries.

You are more likely to get injured at the beginning of the week, or the beginning of the season, because the body needs to get used to the different stresses, strains, angles and the immense pressures placed upon it. To avoid injury, we need to toughen up the body and learn to be in control in increasingly demanding situations. We do this through accessing the muscles, through structured training and prehab.

According to research, injury rate on the slopes has plateaued in the last 10 years at two-three injuries per 1000 skier days, with lower extremity injuries continuing to dominate the statistics. Knee pathologies alone account for 20-30% of skiing injuries, with ligament tears leading the pack. These types of injuries can take up to 1-12months to heal fully, depending on the grade of the sprain. This can set anyone back significantly.

A sudden increase in training load can raise your injury risk. If you have had, or currently have an injury, this risk is even greater. Even the smallest of injuries, if not correctly managed, can lead to short and long-term imbalances and altered body kinematics.

Prehabilitation Programme

The aim of Physio Edge’s prehabilitation knee programme is to make sure you have sufficient muscle control at the knee to cope with any sudden movements on the slopes. The programme takes time to identify and work on any weaknesses, such as strength differences and gait asymmetries, that may increase the likelihood of these common injuries.

Upper extremity injuries such as shoulder dislocations/subluxations, rotator cuff tears and collarbone dislocations are common in skiing. This is usually caused by a sudden load on an outstretched hand, a common reflex we make to break a fall. A prehabilitation programme would focus on improving stability at the shoulder joints by improving range of motion and by incorporating neuromuscular control and rotator cuff strength training to protect you as much as possible in the event of a fall or blow.

Training considerations

When you train for skiing think carefully about all the angles your joints will be put through. Think about the movements your knees will make, and those your ankles, hips, back and shoulders will make. This may seem blindingly obvious. However, most people train in one plain of movement; up and down, yet the most common injury is a rotation injury, whether it is the back, shoulder, hip, or most typically, the knee. This doesn’t mean you should neglect the up and down movements, just incorporate rotation and side flexion at the same time.

With skiing there is a lot of bouncing from side-to-side which requires a lot of power and timing and you also require lactic strength as you go through the longer distance runs. This must be reflected in your training programme. Try to get that burning, lactic feeling in the legs. Make sure your movements are powerful but also controlled. This will lead to stronger muscles, ligaments, bones and cartilage. You will have more control over your muscles and therefore your limbs and your skis.

Training in the park is arguably one of the very best ways you can get fit and strong for skiing. We do loads of speed and agility work, leg strength, power and cardio work. So, if you can, you’d be very sensible to try to make at least a couple of One Element sessions per week in the weeks leading up to your trip.

Unfortunately, we can’t stop people getting in your way, or stop your skis from embedding into soft snow, or teach you how to get off that ski-lift elegantly, but we can prepare your body as well as possible for the little challenges you may face.

*Please contact the Rehabilitation Team at Physio Edge on info@physioedge.co.uk or Tom at One Element on tom@one-element.co.uk / www.one-element.co.uk for further information.

Physio Edge offer 20% off the pre-skiing physio assessment – www.physioedge.co.uk *