Get Active Winter Sports Prep
WORDS BY Marylene Vestergom
• Skis waxed? Check.
• Skates still fit; blades sharpened? Check.
• Snowboard tuned? Check.
Think you’re ready for the winter sports season? Think again.
Although your sporting equipment is in prime condition for a day on the slopes, an afternoon of cross-country skiing or a family skate around the neighbourhood rink, you might want to make sure you take the time to “tune-up’” your body at least eight weeks before the winter season.
“A lot of injuries and trips to your medical practitioner, including the physiotherapist and chiropractor etc., can be avoided,” says Dr. Cameron Borody, a sports chiropractor with The Cleveland Clinic in Toronto. “It’s not that we don’t want to help you out when you need some care, but many injuries are preventable and, at the very least, can often be less severe.”
Let’s face it, our muscles are a bit rusty and, in our eagerness to hit the slopes or play a game of shinny, your equipment is probably better tuned than you are.
If there is one thing Borody recommends you include on your check list, it’s to stretch. “If you can’t include a five-minute warm-up, then make sure you stretch all the major muscle groups afterwards.”
No access to a gym? Tony Mark, owner at Balance Fitness, Personal Training and Rehabilitation in Toronto, stresses there are many exercises that just use bodyweight that can do the trick. He suggests mixing up your routine with various leg strengthening exercises targeting your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes – for instance, walking and static lunges. Another great exercise is the wall squat, which you can do in the comfort of your home. Back yourself up against a wall, legs shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips and slide down the wall, so your legs are at 90 degrees. Then, try holding that position for 60 seconds.
It’s also important not to neglect your core muscles – abdominals, lower back, pelvic and back muscles, etc. “You will only be able to use the strength in your legs to the point of what your core muscles can support,” says Mark.
“Your core is the central chain,” says Borody, “that helps stabilize your trunk while your arms and legs move and prevents the spine from bearing excessive load. You can have really strong legs, but if your core muscles can’t support them, you don’t have that anchor.”
Borody recommends a little common sense when embarking on any strenuous activity. “Remember, those muscles haven’t been used in a long time. It’s no different when you see people tackling that first day of shovelling snow, unprepared for those aching muscles. If your body hasn’t been conditioned, the enjoyment of your activity will be cut short – even if it’s just shovelling your sidewalk.”
With winter fast approaching, staying upright on our two feet is why being physically active is the pathway to a healthier and safer season. So, if you haven’t been exercising – start slowly.
And to ease those aching muscles, treat yourself to a hot Epsom salt bath – your body will thank you.