How to get the most out of your ski day…and not pay for it the day after.
There are two predominant clichés when it comes to skiing: The après ski enthusiast who rarely ventures beyond the cozy confines of the ski lodge because, well, actual skiing is an inconvenience to their social agenda. The other is the limping skier with the comically oversized cast on their leg and ever-growing list of ailments and injuries. Of course - as is usually the case - the reality falls somewhere in the middle.
With the right preparation and approach, you can enjoy a day on the mountain without impeding your ability to engage in off-slope merriment afterwards. We’re all about balance, after all. Feeling good while engaging in your favorite activity is great, but feeling good the day after (and the day after that) is the ultimate goal. Temporary wellness? Nope. We’re in it for the long haul.
Before You Head Out
The perfect ski day should start before you even strap on your boots. You should always get in the habit of warming up before you engage in any kind of athletic activity – not that it has to be intense. We’ve found that a little warming lotion on the muscles does wonders to get your body going (especially in cold weather), but it can also be a few jumping jacks. Maybe a lap around the yard. It could even consist of a few yoga stretches. According to kinesiologist Chris Sutarno, “Technically, all of those approaches can be considered a warm up. They key is ensuring whatever approach you take achieves the goals of the warm up. Any sort of light, whole body movement that helps your blood circulate into the muscles can be effective.” After that, remember the other essential for any activity: Hydration. Drink lots of water, all day.
Even as your body warms up, you have to remember that you are still out in the elements, so layer with lots of light, loose water- and wind-resistant clothing. You want warmth and protection, but also the ability to adjust your layering to accommodate your body’s changing temperature. This will keep your joints loose and warm, and will help guard against tightening up or the infamous cold weather “shoulder hunch” that causes neck and back strain.
And finally, you have to know when to call it a day. Did you know that most ski injuries occur after 3:30 PM? It’s true, and it’s a combination of two factors. One is environmental – as the day gets later, the wind gets colder, your body cools down and stiffens up, even the snow is packed harder than it was earlier in the day. So the conditions are ripe for increased injury risk. The other factor is mental. As Dr. Travis Maak explained to University of Utah Health, “Basically, it has to do with a muscle fatigue. We all want to get in as much as we can, the most bang for our buck. We bought that pass…you want to keep going and get the most out of it.” Knowing when to call it a day can help you be ready to get back at it tomorrow.
When the Day is Done
A few runs down the slopes are a serious workout – in fact, skiing is almost a complete lower-body workout in and of itself. When you ski, you are using your core abdominal muscles (your stabilizers), your glutes and thighs to support leg movement, your quadriceps for extending and flexing your knees, hips and hamstrings, and your feet and ankle muscles for turning. When all of those muscles groups are engaged together, there is a good chance you’ll feel it the next day.
While we certainly recommend a little soothing Arnica for those particularly worked areas, it’s important to hydrate (again) and to allow yourself to – literally – put your feet up for a bit. Allow your legs and torso to relax slowly, so you can avoid unnecessary strain or fatigue. See? There’s a reason the cliché of putting your feet up next to a lodge fireplace is so prevalent – it’s actually a great way to cap off a day on the mountain.
Whether you’re an avid skier or an adventurous newcomer, it’s always recommended to listen to your body. Proper preparation and built-in recovery and relaxation time will be rewarded when you wake up ready to do it all over again.
Or you can just hang out in the lodge. It’s OK. You’ve earned it.