Stoking the Season, part 1: Physical preparation (with video)
Editors note: This is the first installment in a four-part series about preparing for ski season. The series will touch on physical preparation, gear tuning and fit as well as what to do once you’re at the mountain.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — We’ve all been there. You take to the slopes on opening day and spend hours carving gorgeous lines in the fresh snow. Afterwards, you enjoy your first Apres Ski session of the season, then sleep soundly for hours. But when you wake up, everything hurts.
Skiing and snowboarding are full-body workouts, so if you don’t prepare your muscles beforehand, they will hurt afterwards.
There are a handful of ski conditioning classes around town that start months before opening day, but with just three weeks left, it’s crunch time.
“The inner stability of skiing, in your muscles and in your core, helps you ski fluidly on the outside,” said Wendy Puckett, owner of Steamboat Pilates and Fitness. “When you don’t have quads built up, we put our joints at risk. When we don’t have hamstrings built up, it leaves our joints at risk. If things are off balance, it tugs and completely leaves us vulnerable to jointy yanks that we don’t need.”
For those who want to prepare at home with limited equipment, Puckett suggests a few exercises to focus on strengthening the quads, hamstrings, glutes and core.
“Without all those, when we’re lacking muscle, we brace a lot. When we brace skiing, we become rigid and that’s when we hurt ourselves,” she said. “Rigidity is what hurts. We need mobility, elasticity, muscle strength and flexibility.”
In order to achieve optimal preparation, Puckett suggest starting six weeks before the season begins. For those starting now, there’s still plenty of time to condition the body and get muscles ready to perform on the mountain.
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Next-day soreness has an easy fix and, believe it or not, it’s not laying in bed lathering icy hot on your throbbing thighs.
“One is rolling on the roller for quads, IT bands, glutes, stretching it out that way,” Puckett said. “I also think it’s super helpful to do a gentle ride. Since it’s snowing out, jump on a spin bike, a little jog, something to get the blood flowing. That usually flushes out the lactic acid.”
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Alpine athlete Cooper Puckett said hitting the hill again is always an option.
“You don’t have to be scared of skiing sore,” he said. “We have huge workouts all the time before skiing. Once you’re skiing, it kind of just goes away. You can perform at the same level.”
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