Thursday, December 03, 2015

Protect your back on the slopes

You hear a lot about broken legs on the ski slopes--but ruined backs? Kaixuan Liu, MD, founder and president of the Atlantic Spine Center, says many back problems from skiing can be averted by care before setting off to the mountains.

You should condition long before ski season arrives, he says. (Ooops--time's a wastin'.)

Actually, of course,many injuries can result from skiing--knees, shoulder and head, in addition to the back. More than three-quarters of these come from falls.

Skiiers need to bend, twist and turn quickly.

If you feel yourself starting to fall, Liu says, go with it, as gently as possible. Also wear a helmet to protect the neck as well as the head.

But what about that pre-conditioning?

--Build flexibility. Each day stretch the hamstrings, quads, hips, calves, and trunk.

--Work on the core--including lower back and abdomen. Use dumbells or resistance bands to strengthen the upper body. Squats, lunges or leg presses are good for the lower half.

--Increase your endurance with cross training such as rowing, hiking, stair climbing or running.

--Build speed. Quick side-to-side movements are needed for skiing. Hop back and forth over a book or pillow, keeping the upper body balanced.

Try to do all this six weeks before setting off.

Perfect for the January ski trip?

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