Skiing Fitness-Why Fitness for Skiing Is So Important

Skiing can be quite a challenging sport. We don’t do it for months or in some cases years, yet we expect our bodies to cope with the unusual stresses and strains that are part of skiing. Even very experienced skiers are away for each trip for an estimated ten days. Beginners are on the snow for even less time. That’s why specific skiing exercise and training is so vital to your enjoyment and health.

If you’ve put the work in you can stay out for longer and handle more difficult and exhilarating runs and jumps. And the evidence is clear. The level of your fitness for skiing will play a huge part in avoiding injury and unnecessary strain and pain.

You might think that regular time in the gym and a bit of basic sport or exercise will be enough to build your strength and sure it will help. But will it be enough? What you should look for in a good skiing conditioning workout is a variety of techniques to improve core strength and stamina and it is vital that routines do not overtax the joints.

After a lot of testing and trial and error some experts now advise against gym routines such as machine leg curls, leg extensions and leg presses. Not only are these exercises useless for developing specific fitness for skiing, but they can even lead to an increased risk of injury. Even wall squats which are often recommended for skiing fitness are now under question.

Knee joints are one of the most vulnerable body parts when it comes to ski injuries and strains. In a recent European study eighteen thousand injured skiers were analysed. Nearly 30% of all the men who had accidents suffered a knee injury and for women it was more than 50%.

The most common knee injury is a medial collateral ligament sprain. This sprain is usually not serious but it is painful. The knee area will feel tender and the pain is worse with weight bearing. A medial collateral ligament sprain is a common injury for beginning and early intermediate skiers.

The reason why this problem happens to more beginners than advanced skiers is because it most commonly occurs to when in a snow plough turn or snowplow turn. Because of the current design of snow skis the snow plough turn is the method usually taught to beginners for stopping and turning. The actual technique of the snowplough is the bringing of the front tips of the skis together with the tails or back of the skis pushed out wide. The snow plough turn is sometimes called the pizza or the wedge which gives a pretty good visual idea of what it looks like. What the skier is trying to achieve is reducing speed by applying pressure against the snow with the edges of the skis. The snowplow turn has been widely adopted because it makes beginners feel they have better control but an out of control snowplow can be quite dangerous.

When performing this turn the knees are rolled slightly inwards. The knees are more prone to a medial collateral sprain when the beginning skier panics and the legs suddenly widen or when the skis cross.

Apart from correct binding maintenance and release settings the number one way to prevent this type of sprain is with specific skiing fitness conditioning, particularly the right sort of training for the quads or thigh muscles.

And if you are an advanced skier and think you are less likely to sustain an injury well you are right. However one Canadian study found that expert or advanced skiers when they were hurt were more likely to suffer a severe injury. This is usually because of riskier activities and manoeuvres. And once again fitness for skiing was a crucial decider in the frequency and severity of injury to advanced skiers.

It is a growing requirement of most ski and snow resorts that skiers take responsibility and learn to ski safely. This not only means learning correct techniques for your snow activities and paying attention to the correct choice and fitting of ski equipment. This includes knowing your own levels and taking your skiing conditioning seriously.

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