Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ski Racer's (as well as other athletes) need water recovery to prevent injuries!

In the winter I live in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.  Most of my time is spent helping elite ski racers from Waterville Valley Academy recover their bodies in the water after they have trained or raced. Most people don't realize the amount of stress a ski racer's body endures every turn they make. Unlike other sports, ski racing appears to have little impact on the joints and spine since there is no jumping or pounding involved. The reality is- ski racers are fighting enormous gravity forces as they enter the "fall line" at every turn or gate. Their bodies must continually exert huge amounts of energy to counteract the force of gravity. The more advanced ski racers are in that" fall line" longer and therefore experience the effects of gravity compressing their spines and joints even more intensely.

Here is what DR. IGOR BURDENKO says about the power of water as a recovery tool:

"TRACTION is one of the strongest benefits of water. When floating in deep water(in the vertical position) with a flotation device, water creates natural traction in your body. The buoyancy of water (and a flotation device) pulls you up. Gravity pulls you down. The pull in both directions creates more space between joints and stretches muscles, creating traction. More space between joints and stretched muscles increases circulation and allows for more freedom of movement, enhancing range of motion and flexibility. Traction helps stretch back muscles and creates more space between vertebrae, helping to align the body, reduce stress, and increase circulation.

Water provides a relaxation response for the whole body, relieving pressure and tension throughout the body and loosening muscles. DECOMPRESSION creates better conditions for healthy blood flow, helps alleviate muscles spasms, improves range of motion and creates an environment in which the body can heal or recover efficiently.

When you are immersed in water, HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE pushes against your entire body evenly from all directions. This even pressure helps create proper alignment in joints and vertebrae, generates increased circulation within the body and helps blood return from extremities to the heart. The heart works more efficiently, and your pulse and heart rate will decrease in water as a result, allowing a more rigorous recovery or workout with less stress on the system. Hydrostatic pressure will also help the body remove lactic acid from muscles, so the athlete will not feel sore the next day."

After the ski racers train (or race), they meet me at the pool where I put them through either a recovery session or a more rigorous (gravity- free) workout session. I adjust the intensity of the session according to the gravitational loads that compressed their spines and joints during their ski training on the mountain that day.

Watch these videos of our elite ski racers RECOVERING their bodies while maintaining vertical alignment by keeping their pelvis' under their shoulders at all times

- Note their joints and spines can now decompress and their spines can elongate in traction while their muscles can stretch and be freed to move in a huge range of motion.

-Note the core and pelvic strength required to move through the water with vertical alignment. Pushing the pelvis under the shoulders is a constant "fight".