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Looking After Your Back Whilst Skiing

By: Kate Simpson BA, MA - Updated: 28 Apr 2012 | comments*Discuss
Looking After Your Back Whilst Skiing

Those who regularly experience back pain and back problems are often wary to hit the slopes, fearing that skiing may worsen their condition. Indeed, recent studies have shown back injuries and back pain to be more common in skiers than non-skiers and particularly persistent in those who train regularly and with intensity. So, in what ways is skiing a risk to back health and how can those risks be decreased?

Be Aware of the Risks

The back muscles are key when it comes to skiing. Not only are they used to hold the body in the correct position, they are also called upon when it comes to lifting heavy equipment. Because the back muscles are constantly in play, falling when skiing can be serious. The spine can be jarred, twisted or otherwise stressed.

Prevent Back Pain and Back Injuries

Whilst skiing poses a risk to the back, there are plenty of steps that skiers can take to decrease the likelihood of back pain or a back injury.

Firstly, it is important to prepare or a ski trip in advance through regular exercise. This is particularly important for those with a history of back pain. Gentle jogging, yoga, Pilates, swimming, tennis and rowing are all great sports to try. Remember to take things at your own pace and stop if you experience pain. You might also like to visit your local dry ski slope a couple of times, to become accustomed to both ski equipment and the sensation of skiing.

As with any other sport, it is important to ‘warm up’ when skiing. Make sure to take a relaxed run down the easiest slope available to you at the start of each session.

Always stick to slopes that fit within your ability level. When protecting your back, it is important to feel confident and in control at all times.

When lifting heavy equipment, be sure to set your feet shoulder width apart, plan the lift, hold the object close to your body and bend your knees, keeping your back straight.

A warm bath and/or massage can do wonders for the back at the end of a long day’s skiing. Before booking your hotel or ski chalet, be sure to enquire about spa facilities.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

When skiing, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of serious spinal injuries. Pain between the neck and the bottom, a loss of function and a loss or change in bodily sensation are all signs of possible injury to the spine. If possible, try to attend a First Aid course before setting off on your skiing trip. If you suspect someone has injured their spine in a skiing accident, remember to keep their own spine as still as possible. Only ever move the casualty if they are in extreme danger in their current position. The casualty’s neck, too, should be kept absolutely still. Hold it steady on either side. Call emergency services or send for someone with thorough First Aid training as soon as possible.

Before setting off on your ski trip, take time to think about the ways in which you plan to guard yourself against back injuries and back pain. When it comes to looking after your back whilst skiing, planning, knowledge and confidence are key.

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