Why Get Ski Fit?

Since a ski holiday is usually an annual and rather expensive event, you do not want your potential to enjoy it, your safety and time on the snow, or your ability to improve technically compromised by a lack of fitness.

An increased demand on the muscles and joints

skiThe shape of skies has changed over the last two decades. They are now much shorter, thinner in the middle and wider at the tips. The first ‘parabolic’ ski of this type was introduced into recreational skiing by Elan in 1993. The influence of snowboarding in the 1990s increased the side cut even further and nearly all recreational skies today are produced with a degree of side cut. These ‘carving skies’ have produced huge gains in control since on the application of pressure and edging, they naturally arc uphill this allows the skier to turn with a greater speed and control; but it also increases the demand on muscles and joints.

An increased demand on the heart

In addition to the cardiovascular demands of skiing, is the increased rate at which your heart needs to work due to the altitude and the cold. The air gets thinner the higher you go which means there is less oxygen available (at 2,000 metres there is 20% less oxygen). The cold also makes your blood vessels constrict, which increases the demand on the heart further still.

A recent study of winter sports tourists to the Austrian Alps found that inadequate preparation for the intense physical exertion required, combined with the effects of altitude and low temperature was a likely cause of an increase in heart attack incidents, particularly during the first two days of vacation. It had previously been shown that of total fatalities, cardiac death accounted for 40%. Not surprisingly, the authors recommend that a regime of regular physical activity should be adopted when planning a winter sports vacation(www.ski-injury.com).

The likelihood of injury

Fortunately, alpine skiing injuries have decreased about fifty percent since the 1970’s thanks to advances in equipment and improvements in ski area management. According to research collated by Dr Mike Langran who manages the website www.ski-injury.com, for every one thousand people on the slopes per day, statistically between only two and four will sustain an injury that requires medical attention – in percentage terms that’s a risk of less than 1%.

However, the most critical determinants of injury are the skier’s ability, in relation to their speed and athletic proficiency – ergo physical fitness. So it may not be surprising to learn that the majority of injuries are reported to happen between 12pm and 4pm in the afternoon when people are tired.

Lower extremity injuries are twice as common as upper extremity injuries. One third of all ski injuries occurring to the knee joint; trauma to medial collateral ligament on the inside of the knee being the most common ski injury. Other areas commonly injured are the shoulders, thumbs and head.

To ask any questions or sign up to ski fitness program now Contact Fit for the Slopes