Getting into freeskiing means surrendering one's body to soreness, injuries and likely chronic pain problems later in life. The injury rate among skiers is somewhere around 100%. This sport is fun, but man is it unforgiving. There's a reason guys are considered "old" when they reach their mid 20's. 12-20 year olds may think they're indestructible, (On some level, I still think I'm indestructible) but sooner or later the compounding impacts will add up and take their toll.
Landing your first Cork 7 may be one of the greatest feelings in the world, but is the pain brought on from a youth of high speed, high impact landings and crashes worth the long term pain? Hell yes it is, and the good news is everyone can minimize the beat down through some effort and good habits.
Introducing my top 10 ways for Park Skiers to stay healthy and injury free:
Take a 30 minute block everyday (or do 15 in the morning and 15 before you go to bed), and stretch all the minor and major muscles groups in your body. Long, relaxed muscles respond better to high pressure situations, and reduce the likeliness of injury and soreness. Plus it just makes you feel nice.
2. Drink a lot of Water
Stay hydrated, you'll feel better, preform better, and your entire body will thank you. Stay away from sugary, high caffeinated drinks; it doesn't take an expert to figure out these do you no good.
When you're sleeping, your body is in its most effective recovery mode. Sleeping 7+ hours every night allows your body to recover effectively, decrease muscle soreness, and restocks the energy storages for another day of shredding.
4. Eat well
Garbage in garbage out, good things in good things out. Eat well and have more energy and recover quicker.
5. Prepare in the Off-Season
Even when it's Summer there's no reason you can't be preparing for ski season. Ride a bike, get into running and hiking, swim, session at the water ramps and Snogression or hit the weights at the gym once in a while.
I love to bike and run all summer, which keeps my legs and knees super strong going into the season. Then in the fall I get after on the weights a bit more, trying to put on a few pounds of muscles for the much needed extra padding for hard slams in the park.
6. Know when to quit
At the end of a long day, sometimes it's not worth that extra attempt at a new trick. You're at a much higher risk of injury when your muscles are tired, so know when to quit and call it a day. And if you're just not feeling it, maybe shred some groomers for the day. Remember you want to ski again tomorrow!
7. Be Picky
If a feature looks obviously sketchy or unsafe, it probably is. No shame in skipping it or hitting something else. Don't get injured because of a bad feature.
When you first get to the mountain, take a few runs to get a feel for the snow, the features, and allow your muscles to warm up before moving on to working on tricks. Going too hard, too quickly is a good way to get injured because of a silly fall.
9. Use a foam roller
Ski boots, hard landings and routine falls combine together to create vicious tight spot and knots in your muscles that can be painful and lead to more serious issues. Sometimes I don't even notice I have a problem area until the end of the season, and then it's really difficult and painful to work the problem areas out.
Using a foam roller a few times a week is an excellent method of self-massage and muscle maintenance. It also helps you feel more relaxed and prevents injuries. Paying for a deep-tissue massage a time or two over the season is great for you to, but a foam roller is a much cheaper alternative.
10. Know that you're going to get hurt eventually no matter what you do
All the preparation, good habits and experience will eventually be completely ineffective for injury prevention after you catch and edge or break a femur in a freak accident. It's a dangerous sport and sometime stuff just happens. That's not an excuse for not preparing however, and good habits will help you recover quicker after a freak accident.
NS, do you have other ways for injury prevention? Or is your injury prevention philosophy more along the lines of number 10? I'd be stoked to hear your take, happy shredding!