With winter sports season now looming large on the horizon, your thoughts may well be turning to booking that well-earned break on the European slopes, or even those further afield.
But with every turn on the pristine powder comes the prospect of catching an inside edge, every snowplough landing presenting the danger of a knee buckling or an angle ligament giving way – and then the fall that ends in debilitating injury, a trip to the local accident and emergency room and a fast ticket home.
There’s no doubt that ski season sees a noticeable upturn in how busy our clinic becomes as we set about the business of trying to mend the ligaments and tendons that are the casualties of the winter wars.
Make no mistake, skiing can be brutal on the body and no-one is immune from the risk of injury – you need only look at Michael Schumacher to know that even the most proficient and skilled amateur skiers are one piece of bad luck away from serious harm.
Luckily, the majority of skiing injuries are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things (though we can promise it won’t feel minor when you’ve spent the best part of a year trying to nurse your ruptured anterior cruciate ligament back to full health!).
And luck is only a small part of what brings people in to see us after a mishap on the piste. Want to know what the biggest contributor is to ski-related ligament and tendon damage? Lack of overall muscle fitness.
It’s true. If you lack basic strength or fine motor skills in key areas – upper body. abdominals, hamstrings, lower limbs – your body lacks the strength and balance control to cope with the demands a physical sport like skiing makes on it.
Staying safe on the slopes is as much about being fit off them as it is about having great technique.
Before you set off for Val d’Isere or Saint Moritz, it might pay to spend a bit of time getting ski fit. At West 1 Physiotherapy we offer a range of treatments and programmes that will help you to build up fitness, strength and balance to make sure you’re in the best possible shape when you snap on the skis for your first run of the season.
From pilates to strengthening exercises aimed at specific muscle groups and advice on techniques that will mitigate the high-impact effect of a demanding week on the snow, we can work with you to ensure you get to enjoy your holiday in the best possible way.
For your sake, we’d rather not be seeing you to put you back together when you come back. Rehabilitation from serious injury is hard work – and certainly much harder than an incident-free week on the slopes – so investing your time in building your fitness will pay dividends in the long run.
Knees, ankles and hips are particularly vulnerable to the demands of winter sports, so if you have a history of problems in those areas, it’s even more important to get advice before you start packing.
If you’d like to speak to us about how we can help you to protect yourself while taking part in winter sports – or if you have an injury and you’d like to find out more about how we can help with your recovery, please get in touch.