10 Tips to Prepare for Ski and Snowboarding Season
Are you looking forward to the skiing and snowboard season?
Orthopedic specialist (and skier) Dr. Michael Codsi of EvergreenHealth Orthopedic & Sports Care offers these tips to make sure you’re prepared when it’s time to hit the slopes.
Tip #1 - Get in shape. This is the first step in preparation of a fun ski season. Most of us may have been active during the summer, but we may have been less active since the cold air has settled in.
Getting in shape starts with a good cardiovascular exercise program, with either running or biking.
If you haven’t been following a regular exercise program, start gradually so you don’t overwork your muscles and cause an injury.
Focus on building your lower body strength as well because you will need your strength at the end of the day when you are more likely to fall.
Tip #2 - Get the right equipment. The best equipment isn’t necessarily the most trendy or most expensive equipment.
Make sure your all your gear fits correctly, especially if you are going to use a hand-me-down from a friend or relative.
Tight boots might seem alright for the first part of the day, but by the end of the day on the mountain, your feet could become numb or painful.
Parents often buy children’s boots that are a little big to let them grow into them; this can make it more difficult for the child to control the skis, and a loose fitting boot will compromise the release function of the bindings.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to make up for a loose fitting boot with an extra pair of socks.
Tip #3 - Stay hydrated. A water bottle and some light snacks in your backpack will help keep your energy levels steady.
You may not notice the amount of water you lose with perspiration on the mountain because it is so cold, but it is easy to become dehydrated after several runs down the mountain.
Tip #4 - Take a lesson. If you haven’t skied or snowboarded in a few seasons, it’s easy to consider taking a lesson or two, but it can even be helpful for intermediates.
The professional instructor who is really experienced can observe your technique and make some small yet critical adjustments that could help you carve the mountain a little easier and maybe avoid a fall or two.
Tip #5 - Wear a helmet. Helmets dramatically reduce the risk of scalp laceration and skull fractures.
According to the National Ski Areas Association, there are 40 deaths per year due to skiing/snowboarding and only 20% of those people wore helmets.
More than 40% of the head injuries per year could have been prevented or minimized with helmet use.
Tip #6 - Learn how to fall. Knee injuries are one of the most common ski injuries, specifically the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL.
One of the ways to prevent an ACL injury is to learn how to fall correctly and avoid positions that commonly lead to ACL tears.
- Before you fall, keep your joints flexed slightly to absorb the energy of the fall.
- Keep your legs together and your arms out of front of you to protect your head and face.
- Resist the instinct to fully straighten your legs.
- If you start to lose control, keep your arms forward, feet together and keep your hips above your knees.
To learn more, go to www.vermontskisafety.com.
Tip #7 - Don’t go alone. It’s not only more fun to ski or snowboard with a partner, but it is safer. Your partner can help if you crash or lose a ski.
Tip #8 - Wear warm clothing in layers. It seems obvious to wear warm clothing, but the temperatures change dramatically between the top of the mountain (after suffering through the cold wind on the ski lift) and the bottom of the ski run (after your muscles had a workout carving the slopes).
The temperature can also change during the day, so it is easier to adjust with layers of clothing instead of just one big heavy coat.
Tip #9 - Use a radio in case there is no cell phone coverage. Many ski shops sell two way radios that are affordable, and they have a good enough range for most ski resorts.
Tip #10 - Advanced skiers should use a rescue beacon. They are not just for avalanches.
If you like to ski on ungroomed trails, make sure you invest in a rescue beacon in case you get stuck in the snow.
Skiers can fall into holes and get stuck upside down without a way to get out by themselves. The beacon can be the only way to get rescued.
Make sure to turn your phone off so it doesn’t interfere with the beacon signal.