With a few more months of the ski season remaining, there is still time to wriggle into our thermals and don our salopettes for a week of outdoor action, snow, sunshine (we hope!) and log fires. However, skiing is not an activity for the faint-hearted. Consecutive days of skiing require strength, stamina, balance and concentration. If our bodies and minds aren’t in the right place, it is unfortunately very easy to injure ourselves on the slopes.
Preparation Is Key
Preparation is key to getting the most out of your ski trip. There is nothing worse than that post-ski burn in your bum and thighs, which make walking down a short flight of stairs, the most excruciating experience! There are a few simple exercises which you can do pre-ski to prepare your body and avoid the bum/thigh burn as well as prevent more serious injuries. Dmitri Tkatchev, a performance specialist at Bodyism, says that our core, bottom and thighs are the most important areas of the body to focus on before a skiing holiday. A strong core is crucial for maintaining good form on skis especially towards the end of a long day when our bodies are tired and sore, and the snow becomes a little slushy. Stronger bottom and thigh muscles will help our legs absorb all the bumps on the afternoon home-run. For the super-prepped ski body, Dmitri recommends starting your exercises one to two months before your trip and training two or three times per week. But don’t panic if you haven’t got time, you’ll still benefit by starting as little as a few weeks before your holiday. You don’t need to join a gym or have buckets of time to do these exercises either. Thanks to Dmitri, you can watch his ski-body exercises for free via the Bodyism channel and train in the warm comfort of your living room.
Yoga is another great way to prep our bodies prior to hitting snowy peaks. As well as strengthening our bodies, we need to maintain flexibility and focus. Dmitri emphasises the importance of hip mobility. Flexible, mobile hip joints will mean we are less likely to favour one side of our body allowing better distribution of weight through the legs and the lower back. Regular yoga practice, focusing on the hips, legs and core, will keep our bodies fluid, flexible and strong. Yoga is also great for improving our levels of focus and concentration which are important when we are navigating our way down a busy and steep mountain.
Before You Sink Into the Bath
After a full day’s skiing, tired and a little rouge from the sun, more exercise is not going to be the first thing on our minds. But before sinking into a bath or curling up in front of the fire, try to do a few stretching exercises. Dmitri advises the use of a Trigger Point foam roller (don’t worry, the travel version is light and won’t take up too much room in your suitcase…) http://www.triggerpointuk.com/index.php/mini-grid-orange.html
Foam roll your tired muscles starting from the calves and moving up the body. If you haven’t got a foam roller, you can still do some simple stretches at the end of each day. Focus on stretching the muscles in your legs, hips and bottom. A post-ski stretch will be worth it when day 2 arrives and we can walk up and down stairs without holding onto the rail! If you need some guidance, Bodyism also has a great post-ski day regeneration video in which Dmitri shows you the perfect combination of post-ski stretches.
We need to be well fuelled for a ski holiday as all those hours exercising outdoors burns up a lot of energy! Before you leave for your trip focus on eating plenty of healthy, energy boosting foods such as almonds, seeds and oats (see H&H’s list of 10 energy boosting foods). Fuel yourself sensibly before hitting the slopes and you won’t have any problems skiing until the lifts close. Also getting into a great healthy routine pre-holiday means you are less likely to gorge yourself on all the heavy, fatty foods often found in ski resorts (why ruin that happy, healthy feeling!).
Surprisingly many people actually gain weight during a ski trip despite doing several full days of exercise. Lots of cheese and meat fondues, chocolate croissants, Nutella filled crepes and après-ski drinking all contribute to a post-ski muffin top! But it doesn’t have to be that way. Skiing holidays provide a fabulous opportunity to get into great shape. Although there is a lot of stodge on the slopes, there are plenty of yummy, healthy options available and many restaurants serve fresh salads, grilled lean meats and vegetables. If you are staying in a hotel or catered chalet, most chefs will prepare delicious vegan options and cater for other diets such as gluten free or dairy free. And remember, you don’t have to eat all five courses every evening! Packing small snack-packs in your pocket such as nuts, a homemade trail mix (think gojis, cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds) or a bar of raw chocolate, will also help keep your energy levels up and stop you reaching for the buttery biscuits.
If you prepare your body before you go, stretch after you ski and eat well, there is no reason not to return home from a ski holiday feeling fitter and healthier than ever. All that exercise, vitamin D (we hope!), fresh mountain air and fun will make for a fabulous Hip and Healthy holiday!
words by Kathleen Flemming