Do You Like to Ride Ski's and Snowboards??
Our massage therapist and Snowboard Cross 2007 British Champion Robbie Emmanuel takes you through his Stretching, Preparation and Resort Survival Cheat Sheet!
"I've been snowboarding since 1992 plus had a good few years of semi-pro riding and seasons in Tignes so I've got a few ideas as to how you can survive your time in the mountains this winter. If you're a client of Fix you should know that having a wee stretch routine everyday will help you get through life and avoid being a hunched over old codger before your time.
So, if you're not already stretching everyday, definitely get into the habit a least a few weeks before your trip. This habit will save you pain, injury and increase your enjoyment of the mountains and your life and you only really need to spend 7-15mins on it everyday for it to make a difference. That's all I've ever done and I managed to get thru 7 seasons with no major injuries after taking huge stacks in snowboardcross and half pipe comps, falling off cliffs, through cornices and being swept up in avalanches. Oh the joy of bendiness. The further your muscles, ligaments and tendons are used to stretching - the more likely you are not to injure them when you fall. And you will fall. So I always did a full body stretch before riding and almost every time post riding in prep for the next day.
If you know yoga - put a wee routine together that opens up each of the main muscles groups. Better to do yoga or what you know works best for you. As with all stretches it's better to do it slow, deliberate and with deep breathing - always using the out-breath to push the stretch and the in-breath to hold it. (FIX Yoga classes now running out of Ron Dorff's Covent Garden store, book in here.)
Warm up. It's difficult to warm up proper in a ski resort - you probably won't have your trainers with you. So, here's what I did. Take a long hot shower, run the water over your calves, quad and hams and just get generally warm. After you've dried yourself, get your thermals on - this kinda seals in the heat. Then do a little standing warm up - jogging on the spot then some arm rotations will do - to prepare your body for some stretching.
Standing Stretches. Neck - on the 3 pivots, both sides obvs - hold each for 3 secs while breathing out - 3 pivots are - ear to shoulder, looking over shoulder i.e. twist, chin to chest and opposing chin to the sky. Legs. Calf, quads, hams, glutes are all important to focus on as you'll be working these hard.
Floor stretches - Touching your toes - for hams, calves and back, shoulders - Splits - leaning forward to the floor - opens your hips up - then stretching one arm over your head to the opposite foot - opens up you shoulders and pulls your calf and ham. - Feet together - then lean forward and tighten your abs to pull your lower back. - Lie back with your feet over your head for a full back and neck stretch.
After my floor stretches, while I'm still sitting, I'd always 'crunch' my feet - they'll be taking a beating in your unfamiliar and uncomfortable boots all day long. To do this I take one of my feet - then put the heel of my hands on either side of it and interlace my fingers under the sole and push the bones into themselves - it pushes the bones, muscles, tendons, around and provides some kind of release from the pressure you put in there while riding.
Other stretches: You really need to stretch out your upper body as you will fall over and most injuries are caused by falling over. The more flexible and supple you are the easier your body will take an impact and the less likely you will be to injury any tissues or joints.
To stretch out the shoulders, I stand next to a wall and put the back of my hand/forearm against it and lock it against the wall - then twist from the hips and torso away from the locked arm - experiment with it - it pulls your shoulder and across your scaps and down your arm. (Check out out full shoulder blog from Sanja here.) I also used to hang from things - chalets are great for this because of the big beams - also the resort buses are good too - stretch up and grab a bar/beam - get your feet off the floor - hold on and breath deep - each time you breath out your body will relax and you'll stretch your full upper body.
Novice Snowboarders, be aware of your ass and your wrists, these will both take the hardest impact when you fall when learning. Investing in Impact shorts (with hard plastic outerpads) and wrist guards (make sure your gloves fit over them) is not a bad idea and may prevent some niggling little injuries that will stunt your progression and enjoyment. If you can ski and want to learn how to snowboard, you definitely want to do it on a day when the snow is reasonably soft. I would veer away from it if it's super icy as you will be more likely to fall and more likely to hurt yourself on impact as it's so much harder. Any hard impact or injury may not stop you from riding for the rest of the holiday but it does hit your confidence and that more than anything will affect your progression and your enjoyment on the snow. Baby steps are crucial to progressing at a rate that's safe but also enjoyable.
The Pub - Vin Chaud - Free Chalet Wine - Hangovers - Mountain Food - You will go the pub. You will wake up with a hangover. You will be at altitude so it will hit you hard. You will have an eager beaver mate who will wake you at 8am to get up and go riding. You will get drunk in an icy ski resort and have to walk home - this is when most injuries happen - the booze and holiday vibe make folks do stupid things - jumping on each other on an icy street is asking for a very bruised arse at the least. I totally berated my mates for risking their seasons riding for some drunken japes that normally end in tears and possible ACL tears. Jumping into the powder is fun - but check your landing first - there's very hard thing often lurking just beneath the whiteness just waiting for your unsuspecting drunken body. You will drink as much free chalet wine as you can before the staff say you've reached your limit - increase this limit by taking them to the pub with you - ask them to buy the drinks, as they'll get seasonaire rates - you give them free pints, they will give you more free wine and make you better cakes…. FACT.
Hangovers - drink lots of water, take on sugar, and salts as you'll have peed a lot of them out last night. Drink coffee for the kick, water for hydration, take on sugar and salt to replace those you peed out last night in the pub. You will probably 'crash' not into snow but your energy levels - so have a bag of nuts and dried fruit in your pocket. They don't get crushed, they full of energy and sugar hits you fast enough to keep you riding. Carbs will shut you down and make you sleepy. Sandwiches made from white processed flour like French baguettes will send you to sleep. Oh, the dried fruit and nuts will be expensive in resort so consider taking some in your hand luggage. Take a camelback up the mountain - it’s better than a bottle that you can fall onto - not nice. Drink a pint of water when you get home from the pub and have a big bottle by the bed.
And if you need a little FIX-ing after all that we're here for you!