I have moved to the Okanagan six years ago not for the splendid summers, but for the unbeatable snow quality and facilities you can find just minutes from Vernon. So not surprisingly, when the leaves are changing colours and the morning air is becoming crisper, to me it means one exciting thing: the snow will soon fly up Silver Star Road! When I am not skiing (or getting ready for ski season), I am loving working as a physiotherapist and I can see firsthand that injury prevention does go a long way. So here are four simple steps to make the best out of your early Alpine and Nordic season.
• Maintain (or gain) a base level of fitness
With cooler temperatures, fall is a great time to be active. Whatever aerobic activity you prefer, let it be walking, hiking or biking, it is recommendable to practice it numerous times per week. This will help make sure your stamina is up the par for early ski season. Bonus points if you use poles for walking and hiking, get those arms ready to get to the chairlift or cruise the Nordic ski trails! Did I mention that you are more at risk of getting injured with a lower muscular and cardiovascular endurance?
• Add a few simple strength and balance exercises to your routine
Squats and lunges are easy exercises to do at home and involve numerous key muscle groups. Doing them multiple times a week is a good way to increase your muscular endurance. Balance exercises are also a great investment of your time getting ready for ski season. For example, try balancing on one leg on a pillow. Consult with your favourite health-care practitioner to get a personalized program and optimize your preparation.
• Get your gear tuned up
It is crucial to make sure your gear is in prime shape before the season. Visit one of our great local ski shops to get those needs covered. Also, did you know that appropriate cross-country pole length is key in preventing shoulder injuries?
• Sign up for a lesson to optimize your skills
It is pretty easy to see that good technique not only diminish your risk of falling but also make you less likely to get injured. Think of those overuse injuries from repetitively doing a movement incorrectly? And let’s face it, Alpine and Nordic sports are that much more enjoyable with a minimum of technique, especially skate skiing!
Enjoy the fall season and see you on the ski trails & slopes!
— Contributed by Virginie Pichard-Jolicoeur
Virginie is an avid cross-country, backcountry and downhill skier and a physiotherapist at Spine & Sports North End.