Mountain Sports Preparation Guide – Part #1

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It’s almost ski and snowboard season! Brett Walker, Manager of WinSport's Performance Training Centre, shares some great tips on how to get yourself ready for the hill.

Winter is upon us, and as such, so is the ski and snowboard season!

That first trip to the hill often follows a familiar script. You dust off your equipment the night before your first day on the slopes, making sure everything still fits from last season. A fresh snowfall overnight followed by a forecast blue-sky afternoon generates excitement and anticipation for opening day. You hop in your car, head to the slopes, and before you know it, you’re up at the top and about to drop in for the first run of the season.  
 
Following one of the best opening days on record, you wake up the next morning hoping to get in another full day – but your body won’t cooperate, and you’re plagued with that same feeling of muscle fatigue and soreness you experience each year. 
 
How to prepare in advance 
Whether you are a full-time skier or snowboarder, a weekend warrior, or just getting into mountain sports as a winter hobby, there are many ways to prepare yourself for the rigours of the snow season. The off-season is where we put the work in, and even though time is of the essence, we can still set ourselves up for success before opening day! 
 
Corrective exercise & tissue remodelling 
Every sport puts the human body in challenging positions, and mountain sports are no exception. Extreme hip flexion while riding results in overloading muscles such as hip flexors and quadriceps and weakening glutes and hamstrings – compromising our hip and knee joints and exposing our lower back.  
 
Training that focuses on full-body mobility and stability returns our bodies to proper postures to correct muscular imbalances. Core training several times each week allows our bodies to withstand a force to optimize athletic positions. Static stretching, flexibility and isometric holds (where a muscle or muscle group is contracted and held in one place) can increase muscle and tendon pliability to produce and control force.  
 
Aerobic and muscular capacity 
Creating a foundation of endurance will allow you to tolerate higher-intensity training and activity leading up and into the season. Our internal engine (heart) needs to be firing on all cylinders to recover from future training sessions or long days on the slopes. Why wouldn’t we want to run on a full tank of gas instead of only fumes? 
 
Building strength 
Being able to handle internal and external forces at rapid speeds and in a repeatable manner is crucial, especially in a sport where we can’t control the elements. Acquiring strength capabilities to react quickly to unforeseen conditions is our way of wearing body armour. Incorporating interval training with incomplete rest weeks before opening day allows our bodies to use lactate as an energy resource, increasing our stamina to withstand and recover from successive bouts of speed and power on the hill. 
 
Have a safe season 
We only get better at our sport if we are healthy enough to play and not sidelined due to injury. Injury prevention should be the number one priority during the season, and we can control how robust our body is. Preparing our bodies through resistance and cardiovascular training will ultimately allow us to continue doing these activities we love.  
 
Our next series will discuss same-day preparations and what you can do to prepare your body for a day on the hill this season—interested in training at WinSport? Learn more about our onsite Performance Training Centre here.  

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