At this point in the season, it’s possible that you are slaying the steeps, hammering up bootpacks with ease and blasting through the gnarliest conditions like a superstar. If not, check out our best ski performance secrets and pre-ski stretches to help you get through the rest of the season.
Assuming that you are executing at a high level, multiple days in a row on skis can lead to tired legs and a sore lower back. It’s likely (especially if you are on a ski trip) that your self-prescribed recovery plan has been a long soak in the hot tub with a cold brew. Realistically, a wheatgrass shot and a cold plunge is closer to the prescription of what you need for real muscle recovery. But we aren’t here to judge, we’re here to help. Feeling sluggish and unathletic is no way to finish a ski vacation, so try these recovery strategies and end your ski week on a high note.
After a bell to bell day on the slopes, your best first line of defense against sluggishness and sore leg syndrome is to take a spin on a stationary bike (or a mellow ride on a snow or fat tire bike). Go slow and low, this isn’t supposed to be a sufferfest. Twenty to thirty minutes of low to moderate output will help speed the recovery process through blood circulation and a replenishment of nutrients to the muscles. The bike can be the initial step in your après ski recovery solution.
If deeper muscle work is needed, sign up for a massage. You will know you need this option if you are experiencing slight charley horse sensations in specific areas. Massage helps with the removal of blood lactate from muscles which reduces swelling and leads to faster muscle repair. It’s important to flush out all the toxins that are released after a rigorous massage, so chug water to get the kidneys and liver engaged.
If your budget allows for a professional massage, make sure you participate in the process by directing the masseuse to your trigger points or areas of stress. A soft touch massage may feel good and help you relax, but a therapeutic sport-specific massage will enhance your recovery process. Legs, back and butt are the big muscles that are working overtime in skiing, so have your therapist focus on those areas as well as the supporting muscles. A little intense pressure can help smooth out the knotted-up muscle fibers and help with quick recovery.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, then pack a foam roller and a lacrosse ball in your ski bag. Slow and specific foam rolling helps alignment by relaxing and replenishing the tight knotted areas with increased blood circulation. For the most effective foam roller session, focus on a tender area and drill down to the exact spot spending quality time getting all aspects of that location. General and random light rolling is not as effective as pinpointing the sore area with a deliberate and precise approach.
Single Leg Hamstring Roll: Apply as much of your body weight on the point of contact where your skin touches the roller. Slowly move along the length of the muscle, feeling consistent pressure as you roll. As you find a tender area, slow the rolling down and isolate the spot with multi-directional mini rolls. This precision rolling action will help reduce the tension and help blood flow to the aching areas.
Side Leg IT Band Roll: Rolling along the outside of the leg, or the IT band area, is most effectively done by not rolling directly over the IT band, but rolling around it. This can be done with a foam roller or with a tennis ball. If you use a foam roller, roll at an angle slightly off the IT band first for two to three minutes. This will activate the blood flow and smooth out the sticking points.
Reach & Roll: Roll out your upper back and shoulders. Roll your arms to an extended position keeping your hips back and your chest to the floor. The big movers in your legs and butt are supported by the core muscles in the back and shoulders, so spend time here lengthening your body.
Lacrosse Ball Foot Roll: Although your stiff plastic boot provides support to your feet and ankles, the smaller foot muscles are working continuously throughout the day. Sit or stand and slowly roll the ball under your instep slowing down at each tender point and apply pressure for twenty to thirty seconds. Start in that micro area and slowly start to enlarge the area until you feel another tender spot. Being specific with pressure is the most effective way to roll out the mini muscle contractions in the foot.
These simple and basic recovery fundamentals will reset your muscle responsiveness and dynamic movements to put you back into motion within hours.
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