Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gary Brazina offers 10 tips every skier should know before hitting the slopes this winter.
1. Do Start Getting in Shape Early
Get ready to ski at least 4-6 weeks prior to your trip. What kind of exercises are needed? Try a combination of agility, strengthening and flexibility exercise. Try aerobic exercise to build stamina and weight lifting or stair climbing to build strength. And for balance and agility, try racquetball or jump rope.
2. Do Check Your Equipment Before Skiing
Before skiing is the right time to check your gear. Skis should be turned and bottoms repaired. Check your boots for proper binding fit and sole wear. Boots and bindings must work smoothly as a unit. Pitting and wear along the boot’s sole can interfere with the release mechanisms. Your bindings are the most important part of your equipment and they should be replaced every 3-4 years. Have your bindings’ release checked by a qualified technician. The leg you save could be your own.
3. Do Dress in Layers
Mountain weather is unpredictable. Start with long underwear and thermal socks. Wearing a turtleneck under a sweater, along with a ski suit or parka will allow you to shed layers if you get too warm. A hat is vital – 30% of heat loss comes from the head. Mittens are warmer than gloves.
4. Do Use Sunblock and Wear Glasses
It’s important to use a sunblock cream because the sun’s intensity increases in the thin air. Goggles or UV filtering sunglasses prevent snow blindness on bright days and increase visibility on cloudy days.
5. Do Warm Up Before the First Run
Just as with any exercise, warm ups are important before skiing to prevent injuries. Jogging in place and jumping jacks get cold muscles moving and ready for activity. Make sure to stretch calves, hamstrings and low back muscles.
6. Do Take Ski Lessons
Your time on the mountain will be more enjoyable the better you ski. Learning to ski and skiing better will also make your experience safer. A qualified instructor will help you with technique and is paid to be patient and helpful, unlike well-meaning friends or spouses.
7. Do Know the Rules about Food and Drinks
Before skiing, eat a good nutritious breakfast. During the day on the slopes, drink plenty of fluids since dehydration is a common at high altitudes. Alcohol and drugs are unsafe anywhere, but even more so while skiing because they increase fatigue and make skiers more prone to the cold.
8. Don’t Start on the Hardest Run
Take a couple of runs on the easy slopes first to loosen up before tackling harder runs. Also, remember to ski in control. Many serious accidents are the result of collisions caused by out-of-control skiing.
9. Don’t be Afraid to Say “No”
Your friends say “go.” You think “no.” Don’t get talked into a skiing a slope that’s too difficult for you. Take your time. Go at your own pace, and challenge your skiing abilities only when you are ready.
10. Don’t Take the Last Run
Your last run of the day is typically the most dangerous and the time when most accidents occur. Tired muscles don’t respond as quickly, daylight becomes flat and obstacles are harder to see. If you feel tired, don’t chance an accident that can ruin an entire ski trip. Quit early and enjoy the après ski life.
| ||Dr. Gary Brazina is a board certified orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist and a Fellow in both the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons. |
A former ski instructor and PSIA instructor, he has served as a team physician for the Los Angeles Blades and as a consultant to the Joeffrey Ballet, the Southern California Cheetahs Track Club, and the Sports Club LA. He has also served both on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Body Builders and as a second opinion physician for the NFL Players Association. Presently, he is Team Physician for the Los Angeles Heat Football Team.
Dr. Brazina serves on the editorial board of Women’s Fitness Magazine and has been featured in articles published in Redbook, Shape, Sports Illustrated, and Elle magazines. He appears regularly on CNN, LA Today, The Home Show, Skiing America, KTLA Morning News, and Aspen Today.