It's All Downhill From Here: Preparing Your Body for a Winter Wonderland of Fun
With the holidays behind us, our thoughts wander to spending what few months we have of a California winter gliding down white slopes on skis or snowboards. But did you know that massage can help prepare joints and ligaments for those downhill runs? Runners (both amateur and professional) in particular tend to make use of this form of therapy in the preparation for and recovery from a race, which means skiers should take heed of the same knowledge.
While professional skiers have embraced the beauty of massage for some time now, it is only recently that sports massage has begun creeping into the consciousness of amateur skiers as a way to prevent injuries as well as enhance the enjoyment of their days on the slopes. As the increase in demand has risen, I have been required to hone my skills and knowledge to provide the best possible treatment targeted to this new clientele.
So what are some of the benefits of sports massage for skiers? The list is a longt one, beginning with how massage relaxes and stretches out tight and tired muscles, eases aches and pains, and has the potential to identify problem areas before they morph into injuries. Add to that increased circulation and blood flow, the detoxification of your tissues of waste products and increased flexibility, and you have a recipe for preparing your body to deal with any developing aches and pains.
The most common ski injuries are acute or traumatic injuries — ligament sprains and fractures, usually caused by a fall. While there is little you can do to prevent them, prior strengthening, balance exercises and sports massage can all help to develop a better sense of body awareness and positioning.
Sports massage can also help prevent injuries that are inflammatory in nature — the kind which tend to build up over time due to repeated, unaccustomed forces on the joints and soft tissues. These include overuse conditions of the thigh muscles and shared tendons causing pain just above the kneecap. There is also “jumper’s knee,” a degenerative condition of the patella tendon that causes pain below the kneecap. Add to that lower back muscle spasms and general aches and pains usually due to postural issues, and you have a recipe for discomfort.
Osgood Schlatters is a disease more common in 10-15 year olds, especially those experiencing a growth spurt, causing pain below the knee, so please don’t discount the importance of massage for your kids as well.
If you are a skier preparing to hit the slopes, I will be looking to focus my therapy on the following muscle groups:
Quadriceps, including the entire anterior thigh as well as the IT band and groin muscles. The quads are under a lot of stress when holding the squatted position as a skier descends the slope.
The patella tendon can also become overworked, leading to conditions such as patella tendonitis and Osgood Schlatters in teenagers. Friction type work to the patella tendon can break down adhesions and encourage blood flow.
Glutes are an area I feel requires a lot of attention. While massage in this area can be a bit awkward, I can explain my reasons for working on these muscles and hopefully get you over any discomfort you might feel about it. The glutes are, after all, the powerhouse of the body when skiing, used to extend the hip (and thigh) backward in order to move forward.
The Peroneus Longus (PL) is found on the outside of the lower leg and is used particularly when changing direction. When working on the calf muscles, I pay particular attention to the peroneal group.
As your massage therapist, my commitment to you centers around tailoring your treatment in terms of your restrictions and injury history, as well as the sport or activity in which you participate.
I look forward to seeing both before and after those trips to Tahoe so that you can take the drive up the hill all winter long. And happiest of new years to my fellow skiers!
Located at 312 Natoma St. Ste.#110, Folsom, CA 95630