Winter Sports Conditioning

Topic: Winter Sports Conditioning
Guest: Joel Buffum of Sports Medicine Advantage

There’s snow in the mountains, and many people in Yakima are ready to hit the slopes. But cold weather sports and activities are physically demanding. The best way to avoid injury is to start preparing your body in advance of those activities.

Some common winter sports injuries:
• For skiers, injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee are the most common. We also see lower leg breaks, such as to the tibia, and shoulder injuries – dislocations, separations.
• For snowboarders, statistics show most injuries occur with beginners because of the sport’s complexities. Injuries to the hand, wrist and upper extremities are the most common.

The biggest causes of those injuries:
• Going without rest
• Faulty equipment
• Allowing yourself to get dehydrated or fatigued – the classic “one last run”
• Going into areas that are above and beyond your ability level
• Failing to observe warning signs and going off-trail
• Less likely in our region – an inability to adjust to the altitude

Physical conditioning:
• Getting in shape reduces your risk of injury!
• Adequate training in your chosen sport helps reduce chance of injury, improves your skills and increases your enjoyment
• Winter sports conditioning includes cardiovascular training, metabolic training, strength training, power training (explosive moves), balance & stabilization (single foot balance squats and balance step-ups on unstable surfaces), plyometrics and stretching.
• Keep in mind the sport you want to perform and design a program that’s geared to those muscle groups.
o For downhill skiers and snowboarders, your hamstrings and quads are key – hamstring curls, straight leg toe-touches, glute arches, roller chair pulls (dig your heels in and pull yourself across the floor in a chair with rollers), squats, wall sits, lunges.
o For cross-country skiers, it’s more about endurance – aerobic exercise, such as an elliptical that mimics the muscle groups. Planks and side planks strengthen your core.
• Stretching and warming up before you hit the slopes is important! It loosens up your muscles and gets your heart rate up.

Additional tips to keep in mind
• Buy and wear approved helmets or protective head gear that fits correctly. Wear eye protection.
• Take a lesson from a qualified instructor.
• Wear appropriate clothing in layers to prevent heat loss. Layers closest to the skin should be made with materials that wick moisture away from skin.
• Remember to stay properly hydrated and to eat! Good nutrition equals good fuel.
• Know the signs of frostbite – toes and fingers are susceptible to frostbite if they get wet or sweat a lot.
• Know your limits and stop before you become tired.

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