Whoa! It’s that time of year again! The mountains are white with fresh powder and the winter sporting season is now upon us. And so, before heading out to the slopes to get wild and free, let us take a moment to consider what kind of shape our bodies are in. If you are a skier or a snowboarder, you can place considerable demand on your musculoskeletal system, which raises the risk of developing a musculoskeletal condition considerably. This is where conditioning and daily exercise come into play.
Both skiing and snowboarding can place a demand on one’s cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems that is greater than the body is functionally capable of withstanding. For example, the most typical acute injuries skiers and snowboarders develop are overuse injuries, which manifest as low back pain, achilles tendon or ankle pain, glenohumeral joint pain, and anterior knee pain. The average 160 lb. person will burn 7.6 calories per minute while downhill skiing. With this much energy expenditure, it is important to maintain at least a moderate level of physical fitness to prevent the overuse injuries.
There are specific exercises an individual can perform to combat overuse injuries. To diminish the chances of developing low back pain, one can perform plank exercises which strengthen abdominal muscles without increasing compression forces placed on the spine. To combat glenohumeral joint pain, internal/external rotation exercises and scapular punches are best and help maintain scapulothoracic and glenohumeral rhythm, which will deter shoulder pain from developing.
Another way to ensure your body is in peak physical condition this winter season is to hire a person who specializes in the musculoskeletal system, such as a physical therapist. This person can develop an individualized exercise protocol that will target those muscles and joints at the greatest risk of developing an injury due to overuse or repetitive trauma. Luckily for us fine citizens of Baker City, individuals seeking this type of total body conditioning can sign up to attend a winter conditioning class offered at the YMCA on Tuesday and Thursday evenings starting December 18. This class, taught by Baker Valley Physical Therapy, will focus on preventing the type of overuse injuries that can occur from engaging in winter sports, and enhance cardiovascular fitness. With an excellent exercise prescription and a good foundation in cardiovascular fitness, you can prepare your bodies to handle the stress that skiing and snowboarding will put on it this winter season. So, come to the class because it’s about time to hit the mountain and enjoy the best snow in the northwest!
Written by Caleb McImoil, DPT
Published December 2012