There’s an old adage many orthopedic surgeons have recited for years: If you haven’t been in the operating room (OR), you haven’t been skiing long enough. The goal for any skier or boarder is of course to avoid the OR entirely. Which often means skier and surgeon play a mean game of chicken all season.
And the best way to come out on the winning end might just be a pre-season ski conditioning class, held at either Intermountain Park City or Heber Valley hospitals, and taught by Intermountain’s expert physical therapists.
“There aren’t a lot of everyday motions that emulate skiing or snowboarding,” says Katie Guyer, physical therapy manager at Heber Valley Hospital. “The muscles used for winter sports are somewhat dormant for several months a year, so they’re prone to injury when we get back on the hill and start using them again. A pre-season ski conditioning class will strengthen those muscles and help prevent injury and build endurance.”
Katie says a common mistake she sees skiers and boarders make is only working their quads. “It makes sense to focus on quad muscles — you feel them with every turn you carve,” she said. “But your hamstrings and core are equally important to a safe day on the hill. Abdominal muscles absorb bumps, prevent your lower back from hurting, and help you maintain a good position on your skis. Really, a strong core is at the core of staying injury-free. Hamstring strength is important in protecting your ACL.”
In addition to core work, the pre-season ski conditioning classes focus on agility, strength, explosiveness, and balance.
Brett Bousquet is a physical therapist at Park City Hospital and teaches the conditioning class at that facility. He says good balance is fundamental to preventing injury.
“Skiing requires a full-body commitment. Balance allows us to combine strength and agility into coordinated action,” Brett said. “In my opinion, both balance and dynamic balance are critical factors in helping maintain healthy ski habits, with hopes of preventing injury.”
The two therapists designed the ski conditioning exercise programs together, combining their expertise, best practices, and a common goal to help all skiers and boarders live the healthiest life possible — and stay out of the OR this winter.
So if your goal is to rip the hill and not your knee this season, sign up for a class at either hospital. Dates, times, and cost can be found on the classes and events tabs on either hospital’s website: