The season is now underway and with the excitement of a new season there is also the risk of injury. No, I’m not being pessimistic or negative but rather realistic. In truth the majority of injuries happen within the first few weeks of ski season. Many doctors and sports medicine institutes have studied the statistics behind this phenomenon. The reason for this is primarily based on the fact that we haven’t skied or snowboarded in quite sometime. We are rusty, make silly mistakes and ultimately errors in judgement. This is something I wish I had better understood in my own career. Looking back, I find myself saying, “if only I knew then what I know now.” Yes, hindsight is a pain because it makes us feel foolish. Well, perhaps my own folly can help you avoid your own.
Here are a few personal tips that I wish I knew to avoid injury:
Unpreparedness is a recipe for disaster. Feeling unprepared leaves you with a lack of confidence and this is a slippery slope! No pun intended. Whether it’s physical fitness, proper equipment or even frame-of-mind always be prepared. I have found that a checklist often helps me with my needed equipment. For physical fitness, an honest assessment of your conditioning is key to staying within your comfort zone. Give yourself a quick fitness test and assess how you are feeling before hitting the slopes.
Don’t Rush it:
This is a big aspect of injury prevention and unfortunately something I know all too well. We are a culture of quick-fixes and impatience. Unfortunately, that attitude extends toward our own lives and injuries are often a result. If you are recovering from an injury and looking to get back on snow, ease into to it. Regardless of your physical conditioning, there are movements that are solely unique to skiing or snowboarding. Your muscle memory needs time to be reacquainted with those specifics. Most important, don’t try to jump in right where you left off. Progress is a step-by-step process and should not be rushed.
Listen to that Inner Voice of Reason:
You probably have had that feeling or even premonition leading into situations where you are not comfortable. This is a delicate topic because there is a difference between fear and better judgement. While recovering from many of my own injuries and returning to world cup downhill racing, I experienced the full range of these emotions. Building back to speeds of 70-80 mph is no easy task following horrific crashes. In order to improve and regain our confidence we need to allow ourselves to be pushed within reason. The danger occurs when we are pushed outside of our safety ability and are at risk. I firmly believe you can’t live in a state of fear, but rather a healthy appreciation for your ability and limitations.
I trust these few tips will help you avoid some of the silly misfortunes I suffered in my own skiing career! Most importantly, be responsible and enjoy the incredible gift of a playground we have right in our backyard. Whoop Whoop!