Preventing Skiing and Boarding Injuries

By - Edna Hatamian

Excerpts of an article from the American Physical Therapy Association Web site (APTA.org)

Strengthening both the upper and lower body, a critical component of skiing and snowboarding safety, is best accomplished on a year-round basis, (physical therapist Dean) Walker says. But if that isn't possible, he suggests at least 12 weeks of conditioning before venturing onto the slopes. "A stronger, more flexible body will tolerate a fall better," Walker explains. "The underlying message is that snowboarding and skiing safety have to entail a lifestyle commitment. Maintaining a proper fitness level is essential and winter athletes need to incorporate it naturally into their fitness routines."

Suggested Stretches

APTA recommends a regimen of stretching, strengthening, flexibility and endurance exercises to prevent injury and to promote maximum enjoyment. According to Walker, "A good overall stretch, before and after hitting the slopes is important in skiing, but especially so in snowboarding, which entails a lot more freedom of movement than skiing. Riders are moving around in a lot of different directions, so good flexibility is important." Following are APTA's suggested stretches for snowboarding and skiing:

Rotation - Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms stretched out in front of you. Try to look behind you, and twist your trunk and arms as far as you can in the direction you are looking. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat in the opposite direction.

Flexion - Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat all the way down and wrap your arms around your bent legs and hold for 30 seconds.

Extension - Kneel on the ground and grab your heels with both hands. Look up towards the sky and push your stomach forward as far as you can. Hold for 30 seconds. Remember to breathe normally!

Hamstring Stretch - Lay on the floor with your feet against the wall. Slowly walk up the wall until your legs are at a 45 to 60 degree angle with the floor. Making sure your heels stay in contact with the wall, bend your knees and bring your buttocks closer to the wall. Hold position for three minutes.

Reprinted with permission from the American Physical Therapy Association. To view more articles on the subject, visit the American Physical Therapy Association's web site.