Kate’s Real Food Brand Ambassador and Sports Medicine Chiropractor, Derrik Sulzer clued us in on some simple ski injury prevention techniques to improve your time in the backcountry this ski season! Prevention can be a part of your daily routine, or even a simple change of mindset on your ski tour. Here are a few things you can try:
1. Daily Movement at Home
With a lot of us working from the comfort of our homes, we tend to spend a lot of time sitting in front of our computers. Derrik stresses the importance of breaking that cycle. Micro-breaks, at least every hour, will help to prevent injury or muscle imbalances that build and can eventually cause pain in the lower back or hips that is common among winter sport athletes.
2. Use Your Glutes
The lower back, hip flexors, and quads work hard when you’re skiing, especially uphill when touring. To prevent common ski injuries-- you can use this simple method: pull with your glutes. Especially when pulling your skis uphill on a ski tour, it is simple muscle memory for us to use our quads and hip flexors to drag the skis uphill. This adds unnecessary strain to your hips and lower back. Try this instead:
- Pull backward to traction the climbing skins
- Lean forward using gravity to fall forward
- Flick your ankle to glide the ski
This motion will use the strength of your glute muscles to pull you up the hill. Relying on those glutes takes the pressure away from your hip flexors and ultimately off your lower back.
3. Prevent with Recovery
Recovery methods are great for prevention! Use your favorite foam-rolling techniques before AND after exercise. Here are a few tips from Dr. Derrik to improve your recovery and prevention methods:
Use the standard foam-rolling methods to stretch and roll out the muscles. This rolling stretch increases circulation and warms up the muscles. For skiers: focus on the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Slow this process down: instead of rolling through the motions, stop and hold with the foam roller on sore muscles. Hold for 10-15 seconds and steady your breath to relieve the tightness.
These subtle changes to your warm up and cool down will make a world of difference to your experience. Not only will you prevent soreness, but you’ll also improve your strength for the remainder of the season!
Here is a sneak peek at Derrik’s personal warm up for his favorite winter sport:
“My main goal with warming up for a big day in the backcountry is to activate and turn on the posterior chain to avoid unnecessary stress on hip flexors and knees.”
1) Single leg hip abduction.
- Start by balancing on one foot.
- Turn the lifted leg so that your toes are facing your balancing leg toes (internal rotation).
- Maintain that position and then lift your straight leg back on a diagonal slow and controlled.
- Hold at the top for 5 seconds and slowly lower back down while maintaining your balance.
- 1 set of 10 reps on both sides.
2) Single leg hip hinge/Single leg deadlift
- Start by balancing on one leg with a slight bend in the knee.
- Hinge off of the balancing hip until your torso is parallel with the ground.
- Try to move slow and controlled without losing your balance and feel the stretch/burn in the back of the leg and hip.
- Repeat 1x10 both sides holding at the end for increased activation.
3) Single leg posterior glide
- Lastly, I like to re-create the ideal touring motion with activation of the posterior chain.
- Balancing on one leg, grip the floor with your toes.
- Maintain that downward pressure as you pull backward.
- Slide your foot across the floor as far as you can while maintaining your balance.
- Repeat 1x5 both sides.
At Kate’s Real Food, we are thrilled to be working with specialists like Derrik, that love adventure as much as we do. To learn more about Derrik and his practice, you can visit his website here or follow his many adventures on instagram!
As an extra tip, be sure to grab the best energy bar for skiing before every trip-- try all 7 of our great flavors and shop Kate’s Real Food bars here!