Is it possible to rest wrong?
There is certainly more than one way to rest right. But there are plenty of common errors that if corrected could help you prevent a ton of injuries that simply don't need to happen. We have made it to mid July. Back at the end of May, I published the physiological blog,“Post” Ski Season Strength + Conditioning diving into how skiers are strong, what is often weak and how to bridge that gap, including establishing injury prevention practices with some basic periodization concepts. Most of us are probably not skiing much these days, if at all. Of course, there are always a few exceptions in every crowd! Owen Leeper, RESPECT! Great to see ya still sending it in the middle of the "offseason".
The objective now is to reset, reload and get ready to ride again. One of two errors typically happen here. The first one, instead of continuing to be active skiers skip straight to sedentary and sacrifice a bunch of the fitness foundation they gained and have to start all over again. The second is that no break of any kind is observed and skiers either keep skiing or training hard without giving their bodies a break at all.
Option 1: Slacker Status
Yes it is good to rest. However if it becomes passive and prolonged the result is not desirable. The body starts to lose muscle quite quickly. Common ski injuries like torn ACL, dislocated shoulder and skier's thumb, become more likely.
Option 2: Over Achiever
No unloading or shift in season predisposes this skier to exhaustion, burn out and overuse injuries
Option 3: Best Case Scenario ACTIVE recovery
Jail break for the feet! Take advantage of this time outside of those stiff boots to claim full range of motion not only for the lower legs and feet but to check in with any restrictions or limitations in the entire body. Focus on moving in ways that are foreign, awkward and unfamiliar.
What do skiers do in the summer?
Actually rest is a bit of a misnomer. It's not so much about rest and relaxation as resetting. In the winter, skiers work hard to develop "ski legs" in order to ski top to bottom laps at speed or tune up their technique. Come spring and summer, ACTIVE recovery is key. This does not mean hiberating switching to a sedentary schedule on the couch eating chips and carbohydrate loading non stop until the snow flys again. Darn it eh?!
Better off without it?
In this case there isn't so much a particular sport that pairs absolutely terribly with skiing. Injuries don't pair well with any sport. What matters is foot health and muscle balance. It's more the concept of reducing the intensity and mixing up the moves a bit during the spring and early summer so that the brain and body is ready for more come late summer early fall. Moving in general is your friend. The biggest clash is super sedentary or extremely high intensity loads at the moment when the body is attempting to rest and reset as mentioned at the top of this blog.
Get outside and CLIMB!
Indoors is helpful too, but outdoors has the additional benefit of some time in the sun! Climbing takes strength of the entire body. That step up onto the next foot hold requires eccentric strength in the hamstrings, concentric strength in the quads, and flexibility in the hips, something a skier certainly has a use for. The shoulder mobility, coordination and back strength helps to demand a strong and neutral spine. A piece of the puzzle often missing during the heart of the winter. Plus, mountain athletes often thrive off of other outdoor adventure sports. Get outside and try climbing this summer!
Rowing for Skiers
Rowing has endless benefits for skiers physically! Skiers often have a weak cardio capacity. Cross country skiing and rowers are very well known for their outstanding cardio conditioning. Up at the catch, ready to row, the athlete is posed ready to explode with a powerful leg press, that eccentric hamstring move skiers are hungry to add to their training in order to balance their legs and avoid low back and knee injuries. Everything from that starting position to how back is recruited through the entire stroke is extremely relevant to skiers. Check out some free tips from Rowing Canada.
Benefits of Biking
The pull up on that clipped in pedal stroke is a helpful cue for some during the transition in the Turn Phases of skiing. It also happens to be very effective in adding in lots of high volume leg reps of varied intensity. Mountain biking also forces you to look ahead like in mogul skiing and trail running to plan your path.
Trail Running Therapy
Running is clearly good for the lungs and legs. Trail running takes it up a notch. Especially when it is on single track trail with roots and varied terrain forcing the brain and body to constantly calculate and react to the next foot landing, just like off piste skiing and moguls. The challenge becomes adapting, reacting and flowing with the steps in stride. Downhill running is also excellent for learning to stack the spine while descending. Just like in skiing, runners tend to either lead with their head or leave it just slightly behind. The result is a sore neck and back. In my experience grasping this sense of a stacked spine trail running, has translated well to skiing too.
Hold my Beer River Kayak Roll
Seem random? It's not. Clearly this takes a bit of safety prep and experience. Best to try in a river kayak as they roll a whole lot better than any other kayak. Why is this helpful for skiers? There is a ton of balance and coordination required in skiing, especially in regards to grasping the concepts of inclination and angulation. Since this is a completely different environment, it gives you a chance to trick your brain into learning some abdominal, back, pelvis and hip coordination from a different angle. Yes it is a different force. Instead of balancing on skis with speed against "centripetal" force, in a kayak it is still gravity but in relationship to the water, and your own body. Mastering this move may build some momentum with the body learning how to incline and angulate with the joints stacked. Plus it's a pretty hilarious and a fun way to spend a day or two in a pool or on a lake. I highly recommend working on the move first before adding a drink of any kind, never mind wasting a beer. G'luck!
Dry Slope Skiing
Is there a certain move you are desperate to get in or remove from your skiing? If you answered yes to that question you are not alone! I hear you, I feel the same way, I have a long list of things I am working to add and adjust in my own skiing. This is not the time of year to tackle high intensity ski conditioning. After all it is July. Having said that, it is a PERFECT time of year to fiddle with better overall balance.
One strategy that may work for you is using a ski simulator. In the photos below, Tobin demonstrates two simple drills that can be done on any kind of ski simulator, in this case he is using the Canadian built Pro Fitter, from Fitterfirst. This machine is quite handy for practicing that smooth transition, concentrating on matching edge control and quieting any wild moves with the torso.
There has been some chatter in the SkierLab community forums lately regarding roller skiing either on some sort of ski apparatus or on ski boots attached to roller-skates. Several videos were volunteered offering different strategies. A few people threatened to make homemade versions and Tobin chimed in that he had this prototype made. Check out the conversation for yourself at Skiing with one ski, or not and of course the linked prototype.
Make SMART goals to move forward...
- Avoid vague goals like...I want to be a better skier.
- Instead, define your objective.
- Is it possible to evaluate whether you achieved it?
- When setting up a strategy, take a second to think through what is attainable in the time frame available.
- Are you actually on vacation in that time?
- Do you have access to the gear, funds and expertise needed to attempt your goal?
- Challenge is good, but if the goal is something that can actually happen, it is much more motivating than having a goal that is not possible no matter how much effort is put in.
- Avoid making goals that have open ended time frames, instead make dates to work towards. This is a great practice in both in the goal measurement itself and the time frame you give yourself to accomplish it. Then, evaluate how can it now be modified so you can accomplish it moving forward.