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Body and Soul

Staying safe, healthy and comfortably dressed from head to toe all ski season long.

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Tips and tricks for staying healthy all season

For some people, preparing for winter means sporting the coolest new garb and gear. But for others, it’s about making sure they’re ready to conquer the mountain so that it doesn’t conquer them. While the former may get you catcalls when cavorting under the chair, the latter will save your bacon from injuries that can take months to overcome.


An Ounce of Prevention

Dr. Stephen Wasilewski, an orthopedic surgeon who has practiced in Ketchumfor more than 20 years, believes that being physically fit is central to avoiding injury. “The number one thing is to get in shape before the season starts—actually, that’s number one, number two and number three.”

Exercising year-round is an important component in preventing injury, especially as we age. “I’m going to ski myself into shape is a bogus statement,” explained Wasilewski. “Once you’re into your 40s and 50s, you simply cannot do what you did when you were 18.”

A complete exercise program involves more than just lower extremity strength. Erin Finnegan, a physical therapist at Sun Valley Sports Rehab Clinic at Thunder Spring, assesses patients from head-to-toe to determine imbalances and weaknesses. “Perfecting your mechanics is key. Optimal strength, joint range of motion, intrinsic movement—how strong is your mid-back or your rotator cuff? A lot of what we do for patients is to educate them. So many injuries have their source in core inflexibility and can spread to other areas of the body,” said Finnegan.

Let’s Get Physical

Yoga and Pilates are popular for a reason. They provide flexibility and strength where it matters most—your core. Gloria Gunter, MPT, MMed and a partner in Physical Therapy Plus of Idaho stresses both. “You need the balance of strength and flexibility. If all you are is strong and not flexible, you’re at an increased risk for injury, ”she explained.

Fortunately, there are dozens of classes designed for strength, flexibility, endurance and balance. The YMCA offers spinning, circuit training, core power yoga and ski conditioning, among others. Zenergy at Thunder Spring has a weighty schedule of classes that do the trick as well—Pilates and gentle yoga for instance. Yvette Hubbard, a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, is Clinics and Programs Manager at Zenergy and believes that varying your routine is paramount. “Not only do you get bored with the same workout over time, your body gets bored and needs change. You need muscle confusion,” said Hubbard. -Jody Orr



Once you’re in peak shape, here are some pointers to get you safely down the hill:


Get Tuned: Take your equipment in for a checkup.  Malfunctioning equipment makes you as vulnerable as a set of atrophied quadriceps. Binding settings need to match ability, so set wisely and avoid a torn ligament. 

Eat Breakfast: Low blood sugar results in a weak body, poor reflexes and increased chance for injury.

Wear a Helmet: Research tells us that helmets can save lives.  Less than half of U.S. boarders and skiers wear helmets despite the fact that their advent accounts for a 43% decrease in head, face and neck injuries.

Don’t Be a Hero: Ski or board terrain that is comparable to your ability, not your ego.

Learn How to Fall: More people break their wrists and thumbs snowboarding by sticking out arms, or injure a knee trying to stand up mid-fall while skiing.

 For Skiers: Fall uphill if possible. The ground is closer and there’s less tendency to slide. Absorb the fall with your hip and shoulder to protect knees and arms.

For Snowboarders: Keep your arms close to your body. When falling forward, bend your knees, and let your chest absorb the fall. Should you fall backwards, bend your knees, tuck your chin (so you don’t bump your head) and land on your rear end.  It hurts less than breaking a bone.

Quit While You’re Ahead: The majority of injuries occur after 3pm.  Don’t let your buddies goad you into “taking just one more run.” You’ll regret it. -Jody Orr


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