Ski Fit

Written by Mitchell Stokes, Physiotherapist.

APPI Ski Fit Class

Time to dust off those old ski boots and get the fire wood ready. Finally, ski season is BACK! After a long and very hot summer, we are all eager to get back onto the mountains and shred some fresh powder. But WAIT! Before we get too excited about the fresh air of the great outdoors, let’s talk about how we can maximise the FUN we have on the mountains. The answer is simple… PREVENT INJURIES and ski comfortably for as long and pain free as possible!

What are the most common skiing injuries?

Due to the nature of skiing and the immense variety of potential conditions, injuries can be quite common. The most common type of injury seen in the skiing population are to the lower limb, including ligament and bone injuries. The research suggests that knee injuries are the most common, accounting for 27-41% of all skiing related injuries (1). A study of injury trends in Canadian Winter resorts also reported knee injuries to be the most common for skiers (2) . Other common body parts to be injured include the shoulder, wrist, and hips – to name a few. There is some good news though… up to 87% of these injuries can be prevented by physically preparing our bodies for the stresses related to skiing.

What exactly does a ski fit program focus on and why?

The number one thing that a ski fit program will focus on is prevention. Preventing injuries can be as simple as preparing our muscles with exercises that simulate the potential injury provoking movements. A tailored ski fit class will get your body ready for the mountains by
taking you through the fundamental movements of skiing, which include:

  1. Eccentric force tolerance
  2. Rotational lower limb strength
  3. Building core coordination
  4. Improving balance on unstable surfaces

The reason we focus on strengthening in the areas above is because acute and overuse type injuries are both shown to be reduced by implementing these specific types of exercises into preventative programs (3). For skiing in particular, strengthening the muscles around the core, hips, and knees can be very helpful to prevent lower body injuries. You will need to be strong with bent knees and hips, straight knees and hips, and have the core strength to be able to control what your legs are doing at all times.

What is the importance of warm up in preventing injuries?

Having a good warm up for any type of exercise is always very important and should be a priority for any athlete. Warming up helps us prepare physically and mentally for the strain that exercise puts on our body. The main goal of a warm up is to increase blood flow, which
provides more oxygen for our working muscles, and to increase our neuromuscular connections, which will allow for more coordinated and controlled movements.

Another crucial aspect of warm up is mental preparation. Thinking about how you will ride down the slopes and the technique that you will use can help the brain and body connect through mental imagery. Psychologist Dr. Jim Taylor, who works very closely with professional skiers, says that “mental imagery is your most powerful prep-period mental training”, with reference to performance (4).

How can I best prepare myself?

By implementing just a few basic exercises leading up to your ski holiday you can reduce the chance of injury and therefore increase the amount of FUN you have! The following exercises are recommended by APPI to help you prepare for the mountains:

  1. Wall sits
  2. Calf raises with straight legs and bent legs
  3. Single leg bridges
  4. Oblique twists

If you would like specific advice or a tailored training program, book in to see one of the therapists at APPI Clinics and we will be sure to get you on the right track!

Reference articles