For those keen skiers out there, there’s nothing quite like it is there? The fresh, chilled smell of the mountains, blue sky and the thrill of the piste just waiting for you to push and off and get started. With winter on our doorstep, many of us will be heading to the slopes in the coming weeks or months for an annual dose of adrenalin. And while it may make you feel like Chemmy Alcott, as you race down the slopes with the wind biting your cheeks and blowing in your hair, are you really in the same shape as her?
There’s no doubt that a few days of intense skiing, washed down with some vin chaud or gluhwein and a large dollop of apres ski, is a great way to spend the winter. But whilst I don’t want to be a killjoy, if you’re not very careful, that week of snowy fun can leave you with aches, pains and injuries that just don’t clear up and leave you with a holiday legacy that you’d rather be without.
What is easy to forget is that skiing is a very intense workout. A few quick runs down a nice blue piste may feel relaxing and is great for morale, but you are constantly using leg and buttock muscles to keep you upright and moving in the right direction. Muscles that you may not have used for a while. And that effort is increased if you venture onto the red or black runs, or tackle a mogul field, all of which works your muscles much harder than you may realise in the thrill of the run.
A little bit of prep goes a long way
Preparing for your holiday can often mitigate any problems. Strengthening your muscles and improving mobility through stretching is an obvious start and a good one. Get some advice on the sort of exercises you should be doing to get in good shape and don’t forget to warm up before you hit the slopes each day.
The other thing to remember before you head off to the mountains, is that if you already have any pre-existing aches, pains or other problems, you really need to sort them out before you go. Otherwise that slalom race you misguidedly entered, may turn out to be more of a mistake than you realised! Having treatment in advance of your travels may be all that is required to resolve those niggles, and we can teach you some stretches to loosen even the tightest hamstrings.
It’s a wipe out
However good you are, falls are obviously one of the most common problems encountered in the mountains. They may not even be your fault, as you swerve to avoid a young child or novice or just slip on the ice outside your hotel. Broken bones are top of most people’s list of unwanted souvenirs, but surprisingly common. Trying to break your fall with an arm can often lead to that being broken instead! Wrists, elbows and shoulders can all be hurt as you try and protect yourself. And you’re even more likely to come home with a knee or a hip injury.
Picking up the pieces
So, what happens when you do get home? While any broken bones should already be in a cast, the discomfort from bruising and swelling may still be there. And once your cast is removed, you’ve got the long journey back to full mobility. Even if you didn’t break anything, strains and sore muscles from all that hard work, may be with you for some time.
Recovery can be helped with gentle osteopathic treatment. Passive stretching and soft tissue massage can help to loosen tight, tired muscles, and also increase blood flow to injuries. That helps with healing, as more oxygen and nutrients can be carried into the area, and swelling can be resolved more quickly.
While we can’t operate on any broken bones, treating the area around a fracture can help with recovery. Reducing muscle tension, improving blood flow and increasing mobility may all reduce discomfort and help with repair of the injured tissues. Assessing joint function and correcting any problems is also important after the fracture has healed. Muscle imbalances can often result from lack of use, and with an area encased in plaster, that is a problem lots of people encounter.
Get the most from your skiing this year
Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t ski. It’s a great sport and one that I love. But what I am saying is, make sure you don’t bring home anything more than a snow globe and a bottle of gluhwein. Prepare your body for your week’s skiing in order to do what you can to avoid injury and don’t ignore those niggles and pains you have, when you get home. By all means, get on the phone and book that holiday, but you might want to book a quick check up with me too.