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Vail Valley: Variety of exercise prevents ski injuries

Brad Schoenthaler, MPT, OCS
Howard Head Sports Medicine Centers
Vail, CO Colorado
Howard Head Sports Medicine Centers/Vail DailyWhile doing a lunge, it is important to keep all of your weight on your front heel and not allow the knee to pass further forward than the toes. This prevents putting unnecessary stress
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VAIL, Colorado — With the first run on the slopes just around the corner in Vail, Colorado, it’s important to start getting your body ready for the season.

Traumatic injuries, as well as minor sprains and strains, are common during the ski and snowboard season. However, by following a few tips for preparation, you can enjoy an entire, injury-free season.

The most common occurrence noticed after a full day on the mountain is muscle soreness. Whether the soreness is in your thighs and calves from the workout of the day, or noticed in your tail and pride from falling all afternoon, something as basic as stretching can help manage the ache.



For example, a brisk early morning walk to the lift followed by a few quad, hamstring, and calf stretches will properly warm up your muscles for the day. It’s also a good idea to perform the same stretches at the end of the day and the following day, in order to limit the 24- to 48-hour delay of the onset of muscle soreness.

Traumatic injuries are particularly prevalent with snow sports and can vary from minor ligament sprains to something as severe as vertebrae fractures, ACL tears, and shoulder dislocations. These injuries frequently occur near the end of the day, as the muscles have fatigued and can no longer provide adequate support to the joint.



Preparing your joints with a pre-season muscle strengthening program can significantly reduce the likelihood of traumatic damage. Much of the program should focus on core and leg strengthening.

For example, use exercises that mimic your skiing/snowboarding activity such as wall sits, which imitate a tucked skiing position and isolate the quadriceps muscle. Hold your squat position longer to increase the endurance of the quad, which is essential on the long runs of the day.

To strengthen your lower extremities, focusing primarily on the hip and hamstring, perform forward and side lunges. The strength you develop in your pre-season regimen will not only provide extra support for your joints, but it will also help you develop better control of your skis and snowboards.



A plyometric routine works as a nice adjunct to your strength program. Short burst, high-intensity exercises produce fast and powerful movements. This trains the neuromuscular system to respond quickly to a stimulus and can enhance balance and agility. In turn, you rfunctional movement and ability to react quickly and efficiently while going down the slopes will improve.

Before you begin training for the season, it is recommended that you consult with a physical therapist to set up a comprehensive program that can be tailored to your exact needs. This will help you carry out the program safely with correct form, keeping you injury-free before heading to the mountain. Remember to wear a helmet, have your bindings properly set, and have fun on the hill.

A service of the Vail Valley Medical Center, Howard Head Sports Medicine Centers has 12 clinics in Colorado. Our therapists are dedicated to providing evidence-based, progressive treatment that lead to quick and successful outcomes for their patients. Treating athletes of all levels, the therapists are constantly applying the most progressive treatments that lead to quick and successful outcomes for their patients.

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