Seasonal sports, such as skiing, can shock your muscles into soreness if you don't use the same muscles the rest of the year. Skiing-related soreness can be acute, causing you to even miss out on more skiing days during your vacation. With the appropriate prevention, you never need fear the slopes. Should you overdo it, there are ways to lessen the pain afterward.
Before You Ski
Work you quadriceps muscles one week before skiing. The most common cause of soreness in skiing is unprepared quads. A tough quad workout exactly one week before will stimulate muscle activity in your quads, but also give you enough time to recover so you are at your best.
Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants, like Vitamin C, fight inflammation. Prevent the inflammation that causes soreness by eating red peppers, red cherries, pineapples and oranges.
Drink water. Lots of it. A well-hydrated body is a better-functioning body. Making sure your body is in tip-top shape will prevent a lot of problems.
Get a good night's rest -- at least eight hours. It's tempting to party all night at the lodge with hot toddies in front of luxurious fireplaces, but if you do not get enough sleep your body will be ill-equipped to battle whatever the day will bring.
While You Ski
Warm up your quads before hitting those double diamonds. Start on the bunny slope for a run or two, just to get blood pumping and muscles toasty. Trauma happens to muscles when they are shocked by challenging activity too fast.
Shake it off. After you complete a run, jiggle your quads by shaking your legs to get them to unclench. This is called vibration training, and it can help you prevent soreness between runs.
Don't push yourself too hard. If it's your first day on the slopes, take it easy. It's fun to speed down those runs, but you can lose sight of your limitations. If your quads are feeling a little numb, you may have pushed them too far. It's time to take a few post-ski steps to prevent serious pain.
Ice those muscles if you think you overdid it. Icing your muscles in 10 minute sections may sound like a crazy idea in the freezing weather, but heating up in a hot tub or sauna can land you in the metaphorical hot water of muscle soreness.
Elevate your legs to prevent inflammation. Intense blood flow to a sore area, known as oedema, is part of the pain of soreness. Raising your legs above your heart will slow the blood that is rushing to fix your muscles.
Eat a full meal no more than two hours after you finish skiing. Protein, complex carbs and antioxidants work together to feed the muscles your just pummeled.
Give acupuncture a try. A study published in "Chinese Medicine" in November 2008 revealed that localized acupuncture on the muscles that were overtaxed can relieve soreness. If acupuncture needles sound too invasive for you, massage immediately after skiing can reduce soreness as well.
Anti-inflammatory medication can do wonders on muscles that are suffering from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS is the result of pushing yourself too far too fast and can last up to 96 hours. Ibuprofen can bring some of that swelling down.
Perform light exercise with your quads three days after skiing if you are still experiencing soreness. The exercise will bring oxygen to the sore muscles, destroying the lactic acid that is causing you pain.
- Oregon Health and Science University: Tart Cherry Juice Reduces Muscle Pain and Inflammation
- Washingtonian: 6 Foods That Prevent Muscle Soreness
- Physical Living: 15 Ways to Prevent and Heal Muscle Soreness
- British Ski School: Why Do I Get Sore Muscles After the First Day Skiing?
- NCBI: Effects of Tender Point Acupuncture on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) – A Pragmatic Trial
- If your soreness lasts longer than a week, consult a doctor to see if you have caused yourself serious damage.
- Muscle soreness is a way for your body to warn you that you are pushing yourself too hard. Be cautious with your body so you can enjoy your entire vacation.
Meredith Berg received her B.F.A. in directing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Now living in Los Angeles, she works as a film and television writer, comic-book editor and director of plays and films. In addition, she loves tackling paleo recipes, workout routines and DIY projects.