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A Guide to Recovery for Snow Holidays:
A snow holiday is not usually the kind of holiday where you relax and choose to do nothing (excluding the nights spent by the fireplace, tucked up on the couch with a hot chocolate and a good book!). Skiing and snowboarding is quite a high-speed sport – a physically demanding experience – requiring strength, balance, co-ordination, skill, and endurance. Therefore, a routine of warm-up and cool-down exercises is important to aid in the recovery of these sore and fatigued muscles.
There are so many muscles involved in skiing and snowboarding, including quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, and those of the lower back and arms. I remember during my first week of snowboarding, I quickly realised that I had sore muscles in places I didn’t even know existed!
Earlier this year, we blogged about a variety of key exercises to help improve your endurance, and reduce your likelihood of injury. If you’re a newby, or a pro, or somewhere in between, strength and endurance training is a fantastic way to improve your overall experience on the slopes. What better time to start than now! To read more about the simple exercises you can complete in your own home or backyard, follow this link:
Here, we will go into some examples and the benefits of warm-up and cool-down exercises and stretches. They’re a key process for preparing the individual for physical activity; improving sports performance; minimising the likelihood of sports injury; and assisting in properly rehabilitating sprains or strains.
For warm-ups, it’s important to understand the effectiveness of them. They prepare the body and mind for further strenuous activity. Done properly, warm-ups increase the body’s core temperature as well as the body’s muscle temperature (this assists the muscles to be loose and pliable). An effective warm up also has the effect of increasing both your heart rate and your respiratory rate. This increases overall blood flow, which delivers vital oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles.
- General warm-up
Consisting of power-walking, jogging, stationary bike, skipping, or jumping jacks. The intensity and duration should induce a light sweat and should be governed by your personal fitness level, however aiming for 5 minutes is a good start.
- Static Stretching
This is short-hold stretching in 5 second bursts. This is beneficial for overall flexibility, for all major muscle groups and should last for about five minutes. Exercises could include some of the following…
- Sport specific warm up
In this part, you are specifically preparing your body for the demands of skiing or snowboarding, therefore more vigorous activity should be undertaken for at least 5 minutes. These activities should reflect the type of movements and actions which are required during the sport. Squats and lunges are fantastic for this element.
Cool-downs, on the other hand, promote recovery and assist the body in returning back to it’s pre-exercise level. Skiing and snowboarding are very strenuous, putting your body through a number of stressful processes. Muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments get fatigued or damaged, and toxins (lactic acids) build up within your body. Cool-down exercises will assist your body in its repair process, essentially relieving some of the effects of delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS (sometimes referred to as post exercise muscle soreness).
There are three key elements, which should be included to ensure an effective cool-down. All three elements are equally important, and they work together repair and replenish the body after strenuous activity.
- Gentle exercise and movement
Such as light jogging on the spot or walking for up to 5 minutes. Don’t forget to include deep and steady breathing to help oxygenate your system.
2. Low-intensity and long-hold stretching
Follow with 5 minutes of low-intensity and long-hold (30-60 seconds) static stretching. Remember, this is for cooling down, don’t go too hard and vigorous. You want to improve your flexibility and gently lengthen out those muscles that have been contracting during your skiing or snowboarding.
- Re-hydrate and re-fuel
Thirdly, don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids (water/sports drink to boost your electrolytes) to prevent dehydration. Grabbing a bite to eat is essential too – something easily digestible, like fruit, is a perfect way to re-fuel your body.
Finally, the last most important thing to do after a full day of skiing or snowboarding, is to get lots of good quality sleep, to rest your body, and to rejuvenate it for the very next day! That hot chocolate by the fireplace sounds great now, doesn’t it? Good luck!