How to Overcome Muscle Fatigue From Skiing
Skiing is a physically demanding sport and the strain put on your muscles from a day on the hill can lead to future pain and injuries. Muscle fatigue is when your muscles lose their ability to perform their usual functions, and it is usually caused by intense exercise. Skiing tends to fully exert the leg muscles, and muscle fatigue is the result. Conditioning before getting on the hill, as well as safety precautions and actions taken after a day on the slopes, can ease or even prevent muscle fatigue.
Prepare for a day on the slopes. Overcoming muscle fatigue starts before you even get on the hill. Dr. Ed Laskowski at the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center suggests working out with aerobic conditioning exercises before going on a ski trip. If you ski all winter long, start conditioning before the season starts. Many ski injuries occur because people who haven't been exercising regularly head to the ski hill and exercise for a whole day. Along with aerobic exercise, work on strength training your legs as well as core exercises for your abs, back and pelvis to increase balance and stability. Prepare yourself for the slopes by staying in good physical condition and exercising regularly. If you're already fit, your muscles won't be too shocked by a full day of exercise.
Warm up your muscles before diving into the black diamonds and moguls. Take a few minutes before each session to do jumping jacks or run in place. If your muscles are cold, they're tighter and more likely to get injured. Stay hydrated while you're on the hill and after skiing. Even slight dehydration can affect your muscle performance and increase muscle fatigue.
Take advantage of the time immediately after a ski session when your muscles are still warm. Before your muscles get cold, you need to help them get rid of byproducts that were created during exercise, so new blood can flow and start the healing process. Stretching after skiing reduces your chances of getting delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Precede your stretches with five to 10 minutes of walking in place as a cool-down exercise. Stretch your leg muscles with lunges, calf raises, and groin and quad stretches. Perform trunk rotations to stretch the core muscles you used to balance on your skis all day.
Rest your muscles after a day on the slopes. Recovery is one of the most important parts of ensuring your muscles stay clear of injury. When you take a ski trip for a short amount of time, you often want to pack the most skiing into your schedule as possible. The problem is, if you don't give yourself proper time to rest between sessions, you're going to exert your muscles too far and you won't be able to ski for the rest of the trip or even a full ski season. Lie down with your legs elevated at night to help them recover for the next day. If you're exhausted after a day of skiing, don't go back out for the night-skiing session.
A light massage after a day on the hill can help fresh blood circulate through your leg muscles and ease muscle fatigue. Stay on trails within your skill level. Ski with a partner in case a muscle or other ski-related injury occurs.
- US News Health: Protect Yourself From Ski-Fatigue Injuries
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Skiing Injury Prevention
- The Journal of Physiology: Muscle fatigue - what, why and how it influences muscle function
- Metro Sportsmed: Stretching Guide for Alpine Skiing
- Light Manual Muscle Relaxation: Get the Edge - Recovery on the Snowfields
Courtney McCaffrey graduated from the College of Charleston in 2008 with a B.A. in media studies. She has served as an editor for Blooming Twig Books and the MADA Writing Services publishing company. She is now a writer on various outdoor sports such as snowboarding, skiing, surfing and bodysurfing.