Hiking For Skiers

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You may think that you’re just gliding along the smooth snow when you’re skiing, and I’m almost inclined to agree with you. Skimming along the snowy ridges and curves of the mountainside almost feels like you’re effortlessly sailing, but this is just a misconception. Experienced skiers know that underneath the surface, your leg muscles and your upper body are getting a tough workout.

You want proof? How about taking a gander at all those skiers who just dive in right away, then return several minutes later, moaning and groaning about how their legs hurt. You know that next day you’ll see them walking around with aching muscles all over their body. This is what usually happens every time a skier forgets to maintain his skiing muscles during the summer. Come wintertime, the muscles that you need for your favorite sport will definitely fall apart on you before long.

Hiking can play a valuable role in keeping your muscles healthy and strong, the same muscles that you need for skiing. Now how would you develop those muscles? Go up. Include hills into your hiking itinerary as much as possible. Start slowly, but do more intense uphill hikes as the summer draws to a close. Gradually increasing your effort will surely pay off the next time you visit your favorite ski resort.

When hiking uphill, though, remember to take short steps. Try to keep your weight even and don’t lean into the hill too much. When going downhill, be careful not to lean backwards too far, or you’ll end up falling on your rear end. This is especially true on wet terrain, so be careful.

Remember that your goal in hiking is to workout your core and leg muscles for skiing. So if you can hike around in a ski resort, so much the better. Several ski areas are open during the summer for hiking and mountain biking, so take advantage of it. Some of the resorts even run their ski lifts to bring tourists, hikers, and bikers to areas that are difficult to get to. Being above the tree line and seeing the slopes without snow will really make you see them in a whole new light.

Use hiking poles, not ski poles. Using a pair of hiking poles will give you an added bonus, since this will be very helpful in giving you an upper-body and respiratory workout, much similar to using a Nordic-Trak machine. Avoid using your ski poles as hiking poles, since continually stabbing them into the ground will eventually damage or break the tips. Your ski poles are not designed for that sort of treatment, anyway, so you’d be better off using a pair of poles specifically suited for the job.

Keep going, but rest when you have to. Bring along a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated. Wear gloves to keep your palms from getting blistered all over from holding onto you hiking poles. Don’t forget also to tie your boot laces tight and short. A big loop from your shoelace could and will get caught on something, probably resulting in a nasty fall. And with that in mind, bring along a first-aid kit and a multi-purpose tool, like a Swiss knife or something similar.

Look for good uphill hiking trails in your area, or ask your local tourism department for assistance in finding good places. Keep in mind that your goal is to build up your muscles for the great skiing ahead. So go out, find that hill, start hiking and think snow!

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