There is plenty of fun to be had at Utah’s ski resorts this season. However, don’t put yourself out of the fun early in the season with an injury. Instead, follow some simple tips to stay safe.
- Before you leave for the slopes, stretch each muscle group with three sets of 30-second holds, concentrating on hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves.
Also effective are chest stretches: Stand in a doorway and clasp each side of the door frame. Then, slowly step through the door until you feel the stretch.
- Take it slow until your muscle memory kicks in. “The main thing to help ensure you have a fun, safe day on the slopes is to know your skill level,” says Christopher A. Gee, MD, an emergency and sports medicine physician with University of Utah Health. “People get injured when they go outside their comfort zone,” Wrist, elbow, shoulder, and head injuries are ski-related traumas that are seen most often. Prevent injuries by wearing a helmet and/or wrist guard.
- Most injuries peak at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, Gee says. People are tired and their technique falters. Take a few post-lunch turns on easier trails before returning to challenging runs.
- Although it’s cold out, make sure you stay hydrated, ideally with water. You dehydrate faster at higher altitudes, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, and headaches.
What to do when you get home?
- Relieve your muscles. Achiness is expected, especially if you haven’t been active in the off-season—it’s a sign that muscles are repairing themselves and getting stronger. Stretching, massage, soaking in a hot tub, and icing tender areas alleviates soreness. “You can still go out the next day. Just take it easy since your technique will probably be worse, which increases your chance of being injured,” Gee says.
- Recheck your gear. Hang up your clothes to dry and inspect your equipment for cracks or other problems that could trip you up the next time out.
- Get your ZZZs. Most important: Sleep well. Altitude, dehydration, and alcohol can impede slumber, so limit the partying if you want to be your best tomorrow.