Tag Archives: metabolic conditioning

Better Conditioning For Better Skiing and Snowboarding

Ski and snowboard season is just around the corner.  Even if you are active all year, your muscles and joints may not be prepared for the rigors of your approaching days on the slopes. If you are largely sedentary then your body is certainly in for a rude awakening unless you start getting more prepared now.  Snow is an ever-changing medium, and your physical preparedness will be tested continuously as you move through powder, groomed slopes and icy areas all in one run! These are demanding activities, and if you haven’t conditioned your body accordingly, you will fatigue quicker, become sore more easily, take longer to recover, and also stand a greater chance of getting injured.  A version of the same principles used by the World’s elite skiers and snowboarders can be applied to your training program.

Strength and Flexibility

It is no secret that injuries are common on the snow. Your best defense against injury is a good strength and flexibility program. Strong, flexible muscles protect joints from injury by holding the bones in proper alignment under the stress of high velocity turns, pivots and changing snow surfaces. Exercising to increase the force generated by your muscles when they contract is the key to healthy joints. Strong muscles also act as shock absorbers when you shift weight and change levels quickly and if you crash they are your only guard against ligament tears and damage to the other joint structures. Incorporating a daily stretching regimen is also critical because the connective tissue structures of your body [tendons, ligaments, and fascia] will shorten naturally every day if you do not stretch regularly.  When your muscles lack flexibility, you are more prone to injury and fatigue with long days on the slopes Stretching is also critical before and after your time on the slopes to first prepare the body for exertion and promote recovery after the day is done.

Metabolic Conditioning

Also known as cardiovascular fitness, metabolic conditioning is the practice of training your muscles to provide long lasting energy. The best activities to develop endurance for snow activities are aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is the process of combining oxygen with fat to make energy and in doing so your body becomes more efficient at burning fat as its primary fuel. During aerobic exercise your body learns to favor fat over carbohydrates and this gives you several advantages. Fat is a much more efficient fuel, providing more energy than carbohydrates per gram, and it is abundantly available even in the leanest persons. Carbohydrates in contrast are in limited supply in the body and therefore relying on them for energy may leave you exhausted by days end. Secondly, when you burn carbohydrate your muscles produce lactic acid which also leads to fatigue. By training aerobically you will not only teach your body to use more fat as fuel, but you will be able to work harder for a longer period of time before fatigue sets in.

At the same time, skiing and snowboarding are both primarily anaerobic sports.  Anaerobic metabolism utilizes carbohydrate as a food source and quickly exhausts the limited carbohydrate store. This is where sport-specific conditioning comes in. Anaerobic means “without oxygen” and refers to your muscles ability to function in a state of oxygen deprivation. When you ski continuously throughout the day your body uses the aerobic and anaerobic systems. Lactic acid is a byproduct of anaerobic function and is responsible for the burn you feel in your thighs at the bottom of a ski run. By training your anaerobic system you improve your body’s ability to eliminate lactic acid so that you can ski at a higher intensity for longer periods of time. Anaerobic training is often done by performing intervals of hard work followed by rest periods of equal time.

Phase IV VO2 testing is the only way to accurately determine your appropriate aerobic and anaerobic heart rate training zones. This test takes a “snap shot” of your physiology while you exercise and tells us the most productive exercise intensity for your workouts. i.e. when you are burning the most fat and when you are producing lactic acid. This precise metabolic test will produce a personalized heart rate prescription from which to design your training program for optimal results.  Eliminate the guess work and get the most out of your ski and snowboard season by training smarter not harder!

by Holly Perry, EP

To learn more about how to get ready for ski season,  there is a seminar taking place at Elevation Sports (2929 Santa Monica Blvd) Wednesday night, October 17th at 7pm. Physical Therapist, Robert Forster, founder and owner of Phase IV and Forster Physical Therapy will give a lecture on injury prevention, conditioning and what you need to know to enjoy the slopes.

Call Phase IV at 310.582.8212 to book a place at the seminar.

Robert Forster, PT, Founder & CEO of Phase IV and Forster Physical Therapy, National Spokesperson, Author, Physical Therapist to 42 Olympic Medalists, NBA and Grand Slam Champions and Member of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness.

www.phase-iv.net