For anyone planning a ski vacation this winter, now is the time to start preparing for the physical challenges ahead. For Relaxnews, French alpine ski champion Marion Rolland shared her suggestions on how to glide into the ski season without a hitch. Just follow these six tips.
1. Ramp up physical activity two to three weeks before going on vacation
For Rolland, getting into shape before you leave means fitting in at least three 30-minute cardio sessions per week, starting a few weeks before you head to the resort. She also recommends making little changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
"If you are physically prepared, you will be more confident on the slopes and experience less muscle aches," Rolland advises.
2. Do exercises to strengthen the core and abdominal muscles
Whether through crunches, sit-ups, or Pilates exercises, it's important to reinforce the essential muscles of your core.
"Skiing isn't just a workout for the legs," says the ski champion. "Working out the abs and strengthening the back muscles can make it easier to maneuver on skis and help to prevent accidents."
3. Do knee bends and balance exercises on unstable surfaces
"By keeping your balance on unstable objects, such as a ball or pillows, you work out all of the small internal muscles, such as the stabilizers surrounding the knees," Rolland says. Required for skiing, these muscles are rarely used in everyday life. By exercising them ahead of time, you can decrease the risk of an injury on your ski vacation.
4. Steer clear of running if you have knee problems
While pounding the pavement might seem like a great way to get into shape, Rolland says she avoids running when preparing for the slopes.
"It's a physical activity that places enormous stress on the knees. If you have any problems in that area, avoid it." Instead, opt for a workout on a stationary bike or an elliptical machine, for example.
5. Eat a balanced diet
There is no point in making drastic changes to your way of eating, Rolland points out. But to be in the best possible shape at the start of the vacation, it's best to eat a balanced diet in the weeks and months leading up to it, she says.
6. Avoid warming creams, or try them out before you leave
In recent years, a few brands have come up with special creams designed to actively warm cold hands and feet. Rolland is somewhat skeptical about how useful these products might be on the slopes.
"Don't forget that once you are in your gear, you will warm up very quickly, and you could get too hot," says the athlete, adding that sweating could lead to damp feet, something that should definitely be avoided on skis.
For curious or cold-sensitive skiers who insist on a warming cream, she advises testing the product long before hitting the slopes to find out how it works. She also suggests the alternative of heating elements that can be inserted into ski boots and removed once you have warmed up. These custom products can often be found at ski resorts, she notes.