Downhill skiing with Lake Tahoe in the backgroundMany parts of the country are getting some snow, and while the general population may be fretting and planning to stay in, skiers and snowboarders are looking to hit the slopes.

Although it’s enticing, you don’t really want to jump right off the chair lift and onto the slopes. Like any physical activity, skiing and snowboarding can pose a risk for injury, especially if your body and equipment aren’t ready.

Before downhill skiing, it is a good idea to give your body a tune-up. Do four to six weeks of cardiovascular conditioning from running, biking, stair climbing, using an elliptical machine, etc.

You’ll want to target the muscles you use for skiing: your core, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes.
Focusing on stretching out those areas, in addition to your lower back and shoulders, is recommended. There is no perfect routine, but priming your body with a combination of endurance, strength, stability, flexibility, and overall fitness can help you get ready for the season.

Just like your body, you’ll want to make sure your equipment is ready, too – especially if it’s been a year or longer since you’ve used it.

Have your skis and snowboards looked at by a professional before hitting the slopes for the first time. Make sure the release mechanisms are functional and check your boots and bindings before heading out for the day.

If you haven’t been on the slopes in a while or you’re a beginner, take a lesson to help you get your bearings. And then ease into the rest of your day. Start with smaller, simpler runs before moving on to something more challenging.

Choosing runs based on your ability and conditioning is important to preventing injury.

Before getting out there, it’s important to make sure you’re fueled up with nutrition and are well hydrated. Avoiding cramps and making sure your body has everything it needs to power you through your day can help prevent injury. Pack snacks to refuel.

Lastly, remember to stop when you’re tired. Many injuries happen near the end of the day when fatigue sets in, so recognize when it’s time to call it a day.

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