By Melani Schweder

Ski and snowboard season is upon us here in the Rocky Mountains, and millions of visitors will flock to the slopes over the next few months to revel in one of Colorado’s most prized activities. These winter playgrounds are only a short drive away from the Fort Collins area, so now’s the time to start gearing up and buying your season passes! Whether you are new at this, or consider yourself a seasoned ski bunny, there are a few things you should know this year to keep your body safe, strong, and injury-free.

Snowboarding and skiing can put a lot of stress on your spine and joints. Wearing rigid boots and other gear, while being locked into a certain position can create uncomfortable torque. And as you ride down the slopes, your body absorbs the shock of the uneven terrain, specifically in your knees, hips, and lower back. Even if you don’t fall and hurt yourself, you may experience things like leg pain, sciatica, disc compression, and severe soreness after a day or two on the slopes.

So this year, keep in mind these few simple tips for preventing injury and maintaining the strength and flexibility of your back!

1. Get the proper gear

Too many people, especially those who rent their equipment every season, end up with improperly fitting gear, which places undue stress on their bodies. Boots that are the wrong size, boards that are too small, helmets that are too tight or too heavy, and even constricting layers of clothing can leave you sore and unhappy at the end of the day. Be sure to take your time selecting the proper equipment, and ask a professional to help you pick out the correct sizes and fits. And if you have the budget and inclination, consider investing in your own personalized equipment that will fit and support your body for years to come.

2. Drink lots of water

No matter how much fun you’re having whizzing down the track or navigating those moguls, it’s a good idea to take regular water breaks during the day. Always have a big bottle of fresh water available, and stay hydrated- especially at the altitude and during physical activity, your body will dehydrate faster than you might anticipate. Lots of water can help keep your joints cushioned and bring more fluidity to your movement, not to mention keep your brain clear and stomach settled. It’s also wise to save your alcohol intake for after you’re finished skiing or boarding for the day, so you can stay well hydrated and safe on the slopes.

3. Stretch it out

Now is a great time to bring the tools you’ve learned in your favorite Fort Collins yoga studio out into your other activities. And even if you don’t practice yoga, chances are good that you know how to stretch your body in a way that feels good. Skiing and snowboarding often lead to compression of the spinal column, so you should take regular breaks to stretch and lengthen your spine during the day. While you’re stopping for a bottle of water, add in a few easy yoga poses or simple forward folds to loosen your back and hamstrings. Taking time to counteract the stress of the slopes with deep stretching is a fantastic way to prevent injury and sciatica pain, as well as maintain your mobility over the long run.

4. Get a pre-check

Many of us have small, subtle aches and pains that we’ve simply come to ignore or have lived with for so long, we don’t really take them seriously. However, even a tiny, nagging issue can blow up into something serious given the right stressful environment, like the unique pressures that skiing and snowboarding bring along. Before you head out on your first run this year, consider making an appointment to see your chiropractor in Fort Collins, and getting those little pains checked out. It’s better to be safe than sorry in situations like these, and we want you to be able to enjoy your winter activities without fear of really hurting yourself!


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