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Health and Wellbeing

30 May 2018

Get ready for the ski slopes

Officially, the ski season opens on the Queen’s Birthday weekend which is just days away – however, skiing and boarding prime time doesn’t normally hit until the first week of July.

This means we still have about four weeks to get our gear tuned and, most importantly, our bodies prepared for the season ahead. Whatever your level of participation – be it beginner, intermediate, advanced or expert – you should start your snow-prep fitness program now.

Being fit and well prepared for the snow will ensure you maximise your enjoyment on the days you ski or board and ensure you have a long season, injury and incident free.

Equipment wise, you should do a complete stocktake of all your gear. The best way would be to drop it off at your local ski-shop so they can tune and wax your skis/board and, importantly, check your bindings to ensure they do their job probably. Bindings are critical as stiff, poorly set or bindings that fail often result in avoidable knee injuries or a fall, which can be disastrous.

A recent study showed that more than 75 per cent of ski-related injuries were to knees. If your bindings aren’t serviced or checked, and don’t release properly in a fall, your knee joints are exposed to heavy torsional forces and twisting and the ligaments just cannot cope.

I have ruptured an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and had a full knee reconstruction from a ski injury. It’s not fun and it’s definitely something that should be avoided if possible. Any joint, especially one as critical as the knee, is only as strong as the condition of the surrounding muscles. So, if your knees are to stand any chance of resisting the forces of a fall and twist you need to start training now.

More than 50 per cent of injuries suffered by snowboarders are to the shoulder, with more than 30 per cent being fractures to the collar bone or wrist. Wrist fractures while boarding are most common with beginners, so ensure that, if you are taking up boarding, you get yourself some quality wrist guards.

When it comes to your snow-prep health and fitness program you should consider the following five points:

  • A full day of skiing, or a few consecutive days, will require an increase in general fitness and endurance. Many injuries occur when you are fatigued, so by increasing your general fitness levels will help avoid injury by minimising fatigue;
  • You must increase the strength and conditioning of muscles around the knee and hip to protect theses joints;
  • Introduce lateral (sideways) movements, moderate to deep squatting, plyometrics, jumping and rotational movements to your training as they are all consistent with skiing and boarding actions;
  • Work on your core strength and balance. This is important as increased strength and conditioning of the core muscles can help avoid any falls if you lose control or balance; and
  • Develop a short sequence of exercises that can form your on-snow warm up before you start skiing or boarding in the morning. This is very important as you will often be in sub-zero temperatures with wind chill – a “warm up run” isn’t the way to go. Make sure you actually complete a proper warm up!

Speak to a trainer about preparing a snow-prep program for you this year and have a great season!

Heart health and workplace first aid

How confident are you in the role of first responder if you are confronted by the injury or collapse of a colleague in the workplace?

The months of March and April were busy months for me – personally I responded to four incidents requiring me to apply my first aid skills, assisting clients who all had self-generated minor injuries or conditions to respond to.

The case I want to highlight though was a more serious case, where a gentleman who I knew very well collapsed, was unconscious and was not breathing. This was a frightening situation for all and was the exact situation that you mock up and train for when you complete your CPR and first aid training.

Let me start by saying the person in question is now in good health and recovering well, but the situation was critical at the time. The profile of this person was male, around 40-years-old, fit, worked out every day for most of his life, had no history of any heart issues, normal weight and very active. No high blood pressure, no cholesterol issues – generally in excellent health. Until the incident that day.

After the collapse, we executed the standard practice for an unconscious, not breathing person, but luckily just before we started CPR/defib he started breathing and regained consciousness. At the point of collapse, I had called the ambulance service which arrived in minutes of the call. The paramedics monitored the patient afterwards and took him to hospital for further tests and treatment which have all been successful since.

So the two striking messages here are:

  • Regardless of risk factors and apparent excellent health conditions, underlying heart conditions can still exist. Any symptom however minor should be investigated; and
  • Always strive to maintain your first aid and CPR qualifications and skills as your colleagues, friends and family may just need you one day.

Visit the Heart Foundation website for excellent reading and resources on heart health.

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