The following advice has been compiled in order to reduce the risk of injury. Tom is himself a skier and was part of the medical commission at the last World University Winter Games, and has lectured widely on the physiology of skiing.
Preparing for your Ski Trip
1) Skiing involves prolonged intense physical activity - rather like running a marathon every day for a week. It therefore requires physical fitness in order to reduce the risk of injury. So when you book your skiing holiday initiate the fitness programme at the same time. Ideally start with cardio-vascular work to produce endurance, then build in interval work - short periods of high intensity exercise separated by short intervals of recovery - just as you will on the slopes. The legs need strengthening but so do the abdominal and back muscles, and you need to practice your balancing -on one leg and two. It can take 6-8 weeks or longer to get fully fit for skiing.
2) Go easy the first day. If on the second and third day your muscles are sore you have done too much and until the soreness goes the muscles are weak, and unable to support the joints fully. Gentle stretching can reduce the pain temporarily, but they need time to recover. It is safer to start the trip gently. Do not be tempted to have "just 1 more run" at the end of the day - tiredness does not help technique and that is when you will get hurt.
3) A warm-up and stretch before the first run of the day and after a long cold chair lift prepares the muscles for exercise and reduces the risk of injury.
4) Exercise burns glycogen - the carbohydrate stored in the muscles - and this needs to be replenished. So eat lots of carbohydrates before the trip, and every day of the holiday. The chalet tea with lots of bread and cakes is ideal at the end of the day, and a good lunch with plenty of pasta, rice or potatoes will give you the energy to ski in the afternoon. Without this refuelling, the muscles will tire, and injury may follow.
5) Fluid intake is also important - when you work hard you sweat to control body temperature. If this fluid loss is not replaced dehydration may result leading to fatigue and injury. Unfortunately alcohol is a diuretic and so has the opposite effect - shandy is much better than beer.
6) Do not ski with an injury. If you have an injury before you go - get advice on a rehabilitation programme. If you injure yourself on the slopes give it a chance to recover and if it does not - seek help. Timely treatment can reduce the severity of injury.
7) On the slopes use common sense and stay in control. Most injuries are caused by someone skiing out of control - usually too fast for the conditions. Allow for poor snow, reduced visibility and crowded slopes.