If you’re planning a winter sports holiday, preparing your body is key to enjoying it, improving your overall fitness, and minimising your risk of getting injured.

A lot of muscle groups that aren’t usually developed during our everyday lives are involved in activities such as skiing and snowboarding. An average ski day may involve around six hours of sustained physical activity. For those of us that ski once a year, it’s no surprise that a mountain holiday can be physically draining!

To get the most out of your holiday…

Be in peak physical fitness

Make sure you're in good shape. Depending on your baseline, a 6 to 12 week programme aimed at improving endurance, strength and flexibility, is a good idea.

To improve your fitness level, you should be doing an aerobic session that lasts between 20 minutes to an hour, two to three times a week. Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate, and to get the most benefit you should work at 50-60% of your max heart rate. At this level you’ll feel like you can just about talk.

Most skiers take on cycling as an effective way to train their fitness. Cycling works your thigh muscles a lot, so that doubles the benefit! Another option is to take up swimming, which can hugely improve your stamina without the impact stress on your body.

Use the right kit

Did you know you’re eight times more likely to injure yourself if you borrow your equipment? This is related to common mistakes, such as the equipment not matching your level of ability, not working properly, or not being correctly set up.

Your equipment is one of the most important things to get right. Make sure your gear fits properly and is right for your skill level.

Most injuries happen after 3pm

Skiing injuries are more likely if you're tired or dehydrated. So make sure to get enough rest and drink plenty of fluids — avoid alcohol, which dehydrates you and impairs your judgement.

Previous injuries

If you have a niggling pain, this is the time to get it looked at. Don’t wait until the last minute! Most of the time, some simple advice from a physiotherapist and a tailored exercise plan can make a world of difference.

Find out more

If you’d like some advice or if you’ve been injured on holiday, St John & St Elizabeth’s Physiotherapy Clinic can help. Most skiing injuries affect the knees and hips, and many can be treated conservatively with physiotherapy and pain management. However, the first step is to get a confirmed diagnosis.

Visit: www.hje.org.uk/physiotherapy-clinic

A hospital with a heart

Founded in 1865, St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is one of the UK’s largest independent charitable hospitals. All treatments in the hospital help fund the onsite hospice, which provides free care to over 4,500 people and their families each year.