Staying healthy with arthritis while skiing

October 5, 2015

Once you get the skiing bug, it never goes away, and if weekend ski trips are the highlight of your winter, don't let arthritis slow you down. Instead, get your body in shape to make falls and wipeouts less damaging.

Staying healthy with arthritis while skiing

So, whenever ski season approaches, get ready with a three-part exercise regiment made up of cardio (cycling or brisk walking on level ground and hills if possible), strength and stretching exercises three times a week to get you ready to hit the hills.

On the slopes

Stay loose. If you take a spill on the slopes, you'll come out better if you keep your body relaxed rather than fighting the fall, which makes muscles tense and more prone to injury. Try to get your feet downhill as quickly as possible, especially on a steep slope, so you're better able to brake and absorb the force of further falling.

Take it easy. If downhill skiing becomes too much of a challenge, switch to cross-country skiing. It may not have the excitement of alpine skiing, but it is easier on the joints and a better aerobic workout.

Focus on lateral movement. Skiing demands lots of side-to-side movements that aren't natural in everyday life. So if you are serious about preventing soreness and avoiding injury, do sports or exercises that have you moving laterally. Even just a few minutes of shuffling sideways three or four times a week helps. Better is to line dance, play a little soccer with junior or get in some tennis a few times a week leading up to ski season.

Work on your balance. Ultimately, skiing is about your ability to keep your weight upright and centred as your lower body moves through a wide range of motion. Balance starts in the torso, so be sure to exercise your abs and lower back well prior to ski season. In addition, do anything you can to practice your sense of balance — from standing on one foot to balancing on your toes.

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