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Dr. Cunningham spent 15 years as a traveling doctor for the men’s Olympic downhill team, accompanying the athletes throughout the US, Canada, and Europe on the World Cup tour. He was able to pick up tips from some of the world’s finest altitude athletes and their trainers.
Ski conditioning begins about 6 weeks prior to travel, and involves three phases:
Muscle training for the skier or boarder utilizes stretching, closed & open-chain strengthening exercises, and emphasizing the core muscle groups of the spine, hips, quadriceps & hamstrings. For most recreational athletes, low-weight/high-repetition sets will be best. Another option may be a personal trainer or workout club pro to help you design a program to strengthen your core without over-stressing your joints. Join pain is a common skier injury so muscle training will aid in prevention.
Stamina is crucial for a recreational athlete, especially at altitude. (That’s another discussion for later!) Cardio conditioning can be as simple as running, jumping on a bike or elliptical, preferably using “interval” periods to increase your heart rate. Sports like tennis, swimming, and basketball have built-in interval training as part of the sport.
Speaking of sports, these are great for honing the athletic agility that helps prevent ski injury, especially at the end of a long, fatiguing ski or snowboarding day. These are “ski-adaptive” sports. “Ski-specific” training involves side-to-side training tools that focus on the specific ski muscles and coordination. Slide boards, closed-chain waist belt regimens, in or out of ski boots, are popular.
The goal is to decrease fatigue-related injury but also to increase your enjoyment, help you relax, and enjoy the sport!
If you have a history of joint pain or arthritis (DJD), consider your options before you head to the slopes– perhaps 3 to 4 weeks before your trip, you might want to explore PRP or stem cell injectable treatments in Austin as a autologous, potentially regenerative medicine alternative to steroids to ensure that you get the most out of your trip.
By Kelly Cunningham, MD, Sports Medicine specialist and Founder. Austin Ortho Biologics. If you have any questions, please reach out to Dr. Kelly Cunningham at 512.410.0767.
Austin, Texas, resident Kelly Cunningham, MD is board certified by the American College of Orthopedic Surgeons, and an active member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America and the International Cartilage Repair Society