4 ways to injury-proof your ski trip
1. Start 3 Months Before
If you're out of shape, even just a little, you won't be long for the mountain, says Olympic skier Daron Rahlves. "I spend time at the gym 3 days a week strengthening my legs and core," he says, "and I spin and stretch for recovery."
Rahlves recommends squats for coordination, single-leg hamstring curls for strength and balance, and interval training with sprints for explosive strength and aerobic endurance. He also suggests balancing gym time with tennis, soccer, surfing, mountain biking, or basketball. All are killer cardio workouts, and all develop the balance and agility necessary for skiing.
2. Check your DIN
Contrary to conventional winter wisdom, it's loose—not tight—bindings that blow out knees. Before you hit the slopes, swing by the ski shop and have a tech tweak the DIN setting. The more advanced the skier, the tighter the bindings should be. So when he asks your ability level, tell the truth—your knees depend on it.
3. Drink Like a Fish
Higher altitudes bring on dehydration more quickly, reducing endurance, causing fatigue, and lengthening recovery times. Drink water or a sports drink regularly while on the hill—don't wait until you're thirsty. Après-ski, "pound a glass of water after every beer," recommends Rahlves.
4. Know How to Fall
"If you're sliding feet first down a hill, do what you can to swing around and go headfirst, and try to keep your legs up to avoid catching your skis in the snow," says Rahlves. "If you can't manage to keep your skis off the snow, at least keep your tips up and drag the tails."