Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tips for Keeping Your Back Safe while Skiing

Winter is a time when many people take to the slopes to enjoy the sport of snow skiing. Snow skiing, however, poses special risks in part because most people have not had formal lessons. The possibility of back injury is great especially because skiing is a sport that abruptly twists and jerks the spine. Just as most people are not trained skiers, they also do not know the correct way to fall either, whether at the end of a tow rope or skiing down a steep mountain.

Risk is also associated with the skier's level of conditioning. The out of shape weekend warrior is the most vulnerable of all. If you are planning a ski vacation, you should really begin getting into shape at least six weeks prior to the trip. One of the best training exercises is the pillow jump. Place a pillow on the floor and practice jumping with both feet facing sideways, from one side to the other. This exercise will help strengthen your legs as it simulates the turning motions you will make on skis. At the same time, it will help build your stamina. A good muscle building exercise is the wall-sit. Lower your back against a wall as if you were sitting down into a chair. You are in proper position when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold the position for as long as you can without discomfort. Try to increase your time over the coming days. Then, by the time you hit the slopes you will have toned some of the most heavily relied upon muscles for skiing.

Once at the slopes, be sure to stretch your muscles prior to slipping into those skis. Lunge and calf stretches will help to prepare your legs, but don't forget about your arms. Stretch one arm at a time by stretching to the opposite side of your body, holding your arm parallel to the ground and keeping a slight bend in your elbow. Also, bend over and touch your toes, stretching out those back leg muscles.

Now, you may also want to consider taking a lesson, especially if you are unsure of your abilities or have had limited experience on skis. Not only can your instructor show you how to maintain control of yourself through proper leg movements, but he can also help to ascertain your level of skill and can show you how to fall down, if need be, decreasing the risk of injury.

By following this simple advice, much of the danger associated with skiing can be eliminated. It is almost inevitable, however, that you will experience some soreness after your ski vacation.
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