by Katie Ferraro
The snowy months will be here before we know it, so now is the perfect time to prepare for winter sports. Whether you are aiming to hit the slopes or run some trails, it’s important to be adequately prepared in order to prevent injury and increase performance. Here are four ways to get ready for winter fun.
1. Winter-Sport-Specific Exercises
Physical fitness is incredibly important when it comes to activities like skiing and running in the cold weather. Specifically for these sports, both core and leg strength are essential and should be the focus of training. Unilateral exercises like, lunges and pistol squats, work on your stabilizing muscles, giving you a great foundation. Runtastic by Adidas outlines 10 great exercises that’ll prepare you for both running and skiing.
Increasing your mobility in your ankles and knees to pivot, twist and turn will also be important to reduce the risk of injury. This mobility comes from both strength exercises and stretching, which can be easily incorporated into your workout regimen.
2. Belly Breathing
Another big piece of physical fitness that is often overlooked is lung health. By incorporating diaphragmatic breathing into your training, you can gain huge benefits like body restoration and relaxation, an immune system boost, improved circulation, increased breath capacity and calmness within the nervous system. Normally we breathe through our chest very shallowly, rather than taking deep belly breaths and reaping these benefits. However, you can retrain your system, and all it takes is about 5 to 10 minutes per day. You’ll be happy you did when you hit those high-altitude slopes.
3. Gearing Up
The biggest thing to look for when choosing what to wear while skiing and running is moisture-wicking material. Base layers and compression socks made of merino wool are perhaps the best options, as wool is not only naturally moisture-wicking, but also extremely comfortable. It keeps you dry (by drawing the sweat from your skin and allowing it to evaporate on the wool) and warm, thus reducing your risk of hypothermia.
In addition to these properties, wool athletic compression socks help you recover faster from your winter adventure. They reduce swelling, muscle soreness and fatigue by getting more oxygen to the muscles while simultaneously reducing the buildup of lactic acid.
4. Keep Safety First
While on the topic of safety and gear, grab a hat (or helmet!) before your day on the mountain or the trail. Since most heat escapes the body through your head, if you’re planning to be outside for a long period of time, cover your head to maintain a safe body temperature. Further, if you’re hitting the slopes for the first time, take a lesson. In general, the mountains can get crowded, so in order to avoid injury, know your limits, be cautious of the people around you and know your responsibility code. And trust us … don’t forget to wear sunscreen.
For trail running, because there are fewer hours of light and potentially low visibility, wearing a headlamp and bright, reflective clothing is essential. Wear proper shoes with appropriate grip, always carry your cell phone (and/or GPS depending on the terrain) and communicate your planned route and your estimated return time with a friend.
Winter doesn’t last forever, so it’s best to get the most from the season . By focusing on your preparation, you are setting yourself up for longer days and even more fun.
Katie Ferraro is a writer and group fitness trainer in Los Angeles. When she’s not writing or at the gym, you’ll find her somewhere in the wilderness camping, hiking or backpacking.