“The main thing to concentrate on is lower body strength,” says Blackham. “Keeping strong quads, hips and hamstrings is a great way to keep in shape for the exercises you will be doing when you are downhill skiing. Making sure you are strong and fit in your lower body is huge.”
Blackham says there are many programs in the area focusing on getting in shape for ski season if you are interested, but simply keeping in shape is the key. In addition to lower body strength, shoulder strength is key.
“In the community there are a lot of fit programs, such as Crossfit and Body Pump. Several physical therapy places also have programs to help people get fit for skiing, and those are always great, but just being active is the biggest thing. Skier sits, squats and lunges are great, and shoulders are particularly important. There are a lot of movements such as pole plants and the shoulders take a large portion of the load. Make sure to work your rotator cuff muscles. Those are very important.”
In addition to physical shape, another factor in maintaining safety on the slopes is to ensure that your gear is up to par.
“Make sure to get your gear checked,” says Blackham. “Check your bindings, check your boots, and make sure you have a good helmet. For snowboarders we have a glove designed by Dr. Richter, one of our orthopedic specialists, called the Richter glove that has a wrist brace with it. It has been shown to prevent wrist fractures. They work very, very well.”
One more tip is to warm yourself up to your conditions.
“Conditions aren’t always the same at the bottom of the run as they are at the top. Do a warmup run or two, and really learn what the terrain is like before you get going hard. We see a lot of injuries from people who come and hit the slopes as fast and hard as they can because they didn’t check it out first. The other big thing is to ski your level. Don’t be overconfident, stay conservative at first. Make sure you know the mountain and don’t go beyond what you can do. As you gain familiarity and skill the chances of injury go down.”