Australasia is home to several well-developed resorts and ample ski and snowboard opportunities, making it an ideal part of the world to live in, if you’re partial to winter sports. These many beautiful slopes are ready, but is your body?
Whether you’re an avid back-country, cross- country, hobby, or competitive skier or snowboarder, you will know just how much of a toll these exhilarating sports can take on your body. Based on Victorian Ski Patrol reports alone, injury rates sit at between 1.5 to 3.9 injuries per 1,000 visitors.
These statistics don’t take into account muscular and lower back pain that some people may experience after a weekend, or week, on the slopes. Skiing and snowboarding, while fun for the whole family, can leave your body feeling a little worse for wear come the end of the winter sports season.
Muscular pain, including in your lower back and abdomen, can occur when your body’s core muscles are working overtime to maintain your correct form – essentially, trying to keep you upright and off the snow. Doing this for extended periods in itself can cause muscular pain, but may then be made worse by heavy equipment such as boots, cumbersome jackets, and of course, the board or skis themselves.
If you fall while skiing or boarding, you may also run the risk of stressing, twisting, or jarring your spine, including the soft tissue that supports it. However, even the bumpy terrain may have the same effect, as could correcting your stance at short notice, to stop yourself from falling. In essence, skiing and snowboarding can put immense pressure on your spine – whether you’re upright or lying on the snow, post-fall.
The risk of injury and ongoing pain can put many people off hitting the slopes, but there are things you can be doing to prepare your body before the season begins. Start by exercising regularly for at least six weeks before you begin the season. Doing so is likely to put you in better physical condition.
You can also work your way up from beginner slopes through to the more challenging slopes, as a way to warm your body up to more physical challenges, as well as only attempting slopes you and your body can handle.
If you do experience back pain or muscular aches during or after a winter sports session, consider icing the tender areas, relaxing in a spa and consulting your chiropractor.
When walking in summer you get to enjoy the sunshine, and the outdoors in general. Walking in winter however, can be a completely different experience. Here’s how to make your winter walk as enjoyable and beneficial as your summer one.
Walking at any time of the year is good for your health. Not only are you getting that much-needed exercise, but you’re also improving circulation, boosting your mood and energy levels, building core strength, and helping to improve mobility.
In summer, getting out and about is easy to do.You want to be out in the sunshine, so taking a quick walk down around the block or to the park is an enjoyable experience. In winter, when the air is cold, or it’s a little bit drizzly, you may be more inclined to want to stay indoors.
While it’s all too easy to cuddle up on the couch with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate, it’s important to get the same level of exercise now as you did during those summer months. Once you’ve built up the motivation to get your walking shoes on and out the door, you’ll remember just how refreshing a walk can be, whatever the weather.
Here are a few things you can do to enhance that experience just a little bit more.
Don’t let the winter blues set in. There are several great walking apps available from the App Store or Google Play which can help motivate you. For example the Just Start Walking app allows users to map their walks, set goals based on kilometres walked, share their walk on social media and repeat saved walks. Find walking routes to suit your experience level. You may be inspired to walk further and faster, and your body will thank you for it.