Practical Self-Care Tips to Help You Prevent Pain and Injury on the Slopes: Part 1

Everyone knows that squats and lunges are great exercises to help you handle the steep and deep.  But did you know that preventing injury on the slopes starts in your bedroom?  Keep reading to find out the three things I teach my patients to prevent pain on the slopes—or even while doing yard work—these tips will help you prevent pain before it begins.

1. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in the bedroom

The things you do to your body while you sleep at night, determine how your body performs the next day.  If you sleep in a twisted position all night long, it’s not hard to imagine why your back fails you during your 4th run on a powder day.  Sleep position is a common topic at our clinic because it can impact everything from neck pain and headaches to low back and buttock pain.  Here are some things to consider when you hit the sack:

If you are a stomach sleeper:

In order to breathe you must twist your neck to one side.  This is not an ideal position for your neck for a prolonged period (imagine sitting at a desk all day in that position—definitely a violation of ergonomic principles).  So, my usual tip to patients is to try to sleep on your sides or back, if at all possible.

If you are a back sleeper:

Make sure your neck is supported with a pillow that is not too thick or too thin, in order to maintain neutral alignment of the spine.  Try putting a pillow under your knees if your back bothers you in this position.

If you are a side sleeper:

Don’t sleep in a twisted position like the photo on the left below.  Also, the pillow choice advice above applies here too.

2. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in your chair

We treat so many desk jockeys at our clinic it’s no wonder that when the weekend includes 6-8 hours of skiing (and sometimes falling), Monday arrives with pain.  Even if you don’t sit at a desk for a living, you most likely sit for prolonged periods using a handheld device—gaming, facebook, checking email, etc.  It is absolutely necessary to undo what you’ve done all week, such as prolonged sitting or slouching (ahem), if you want to reduce pain on the weekend and be ready for a powder day.

Posture 101:

Roll your hips forward to reduce pressure on your buttocks and restore the natural lordosis of the lumbar spine.  Don’t stick your chinforward or let your upper back and shoulders roll forward.  Instead pretend the hair on the crown of your head is being pulled upward toward the ceiling

Ergonomics 101:

For Pete’s sake don’t sit on the couch like this!  A laptop should only be on your lap if you are using it for less than 30 minutes; otherwise you need to create a docking station at a desk or table.  In general: sit up straight, support your low back, get the monitor at eye level, and make sure you are typing with your elbows at a greater than 90° angle.


3. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in the home

Whether you realize it or not you are doing things every single day that make your back a target for injury.  Every time you bend improperly to unload the dishwasher or pick up your socks off the floor you are setting yourself up for pain on the slopes.  Don’t curve your back when you bend forward, instead bend your knees and hips and keep your back straight.

There you have it. Now you know simple things that you can change in your daily routine to keep you from setting youself up for a rough day on the slopes. The best way to keep injury and painfree on the slopes is to make sure that your postures and body mechanics off the slopes are not putting your musculo-skeletal system at risk.  This post is a part 1 in a series of 2 blogs that will help you prevent pain and injuries during your winter weekends on the mountains. Stay tuned to our blog or Facebook page to see the second part of this series on injury prevention. In the meantime, stay safe out there and stop in or call us if you have any questions on prevention or a current injury!

Kelli Crosby, PT, COMPT


Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

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