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Dealing with Sore Muscles
Fit to Play
The first day of the ski season is usually followed by sore muscles. Even those of us who have trained diligently at the gym to get ready for the winter season often find muscle soreness after day one on the slopes, though usually for a much smaller duration. Here are a few tips to help you out.
1. Stay hydrated. The ski hill is one of the hardest places to drink water. Try to hydrate before and after you ski with water or an electrolyte drink...coffee and alcohol WILL dehydrate you! Electrolyte drinks (such as Gatorade) will help replenish your muscles of nutrients lost when sweating and repair injured muscles as well as prevent muscle cramping.
2. Light cardio. If you can tell as soon as you take your boots off that you have overdone it, try a light low impact aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or riding a recumbent bicycle to help bring blood flow to help heal the overused areas.
3. Hot tub and stretch. Relaxing in a hot tub (or bath) feels amazing on sore muscles. When you are good and warmed up, try to stretch your muscles out holding each position for 5-10 slow breaths. Skiers should definitely stretch their quads (foot to bum), glutes (cross foot to knee while seated and lean forwards), calves (pull your toe towards you) and back (twist to both directions keeping your abs tight and posture tall). Remember that stretching should never hurt.
4. Know your limitations. If this has not been your year to pre-ski train at the gym, try not to get yourself roped into skiing with your arch rival or very fit child on your first day!
5. Ice. If you have any swollen or ‘hot’ feeling muscles, ice them for 10 minutes on and off in the evening. Many athletes find ice baths or contrast baths (ice/hot) work the best.
6. Massage. If you cannot get in to see any of our local massage therapists, give yourself a light friction massage up, down and side to side along the afflicted muscle fibres.
7. Warm up completely before exercising again. If you can barely move first thing in the morning, go for a brisk walk to get your heart rate up and then stretch your muscles out.
8. Prevention. If you have ever worked out at the gym prior to and during the ski season, you will know that muscle soreness will go away much more quickly than if you have not. Consult your local Kinesiologist to help you create a balanced fitness program that will include exercises to help strengthen the ski specific muscles as well as those muscles you are not using when you ski to keep your body balanced and injury free.
If your muscle soreness persists for longer than seven days or increases despite these measures, consult your physician. Try not to take pain medication right before hitting the slopes again, this can mask your injury and make things worse. Fitness is an amazing prevention for sore muscles so learn something from your experience and use prevention first! Happy holidays!