The Last Run by Rhett Griggs, M.D.
One of the most common sayings said in the ski area clinic is, "it was my last run". Their ski season is usually over or delayed at the best and the injury list that produces this frank statement is extensive. 2017 is pleasantly exceeding our predictions and expectations for locals and visitors alike. The energy is high and as the snow keeps falling, the desire to be at CBMR shredding is prominent. Keeping in mind a few tips can help keep the ski area clinic and a trip to Griggs Orthopedics (gO) at bay.
Being prepared for the season, or ski vacation is extremely important. Physical fitness, acclimation, and equipment can make the difference in a trip to the operating room or simply back the condo. Fitness is not an overnight success. A concerted plan focusing on strengthening exercises, flexibility, balance and endurance over a 6-8 week period is important. Strengthening exercises with abdominal toning, buttock and leg (quadriceps and hamstring) and low back should be the core muscular groups focused on prior to the first day. Gentle stretching prior, during and after skiing are important. Keep those muscles supple with guided stretching, yoga and massage. Skiing is a sport specific strength and although the strengthening and stretching will help, the soreness felt is a good reminder to recover.
Eating a healthy balanced diet and limiting processed food in addition to getting plenty of hydration will help the strength and conditioning as well as adjusting to the altitude. At 6000 feet a person will sweat up to 2x more than at sea level. CB is at 9380 feet. Generally it is recommended to hydrate 2-3 days prior to landing in the Gunnison valley and keep the water coming. Urine clear by noon is a simple reminder. Continuous hydration throughout the day is better than a big glass at noon. Aclimate is a local company specifically formulated for altitude assistance and is found in most stores in the valley. Alcohol and caffeine will require more water input as well.
It should gO without saying that proper equipment, and set up, is of utmost importance. Technology in the ski industry is ever changing and focused on safety and enjoyment of the skier. Visiting a local professional shop for proper fit, ski length, ski type, binding setting, poles (with baskets!), helmet and gear is worth the time and money. I still recommend wrist and knee guards for beginner snowboarders as well. Do not overdress or underdress and keep the wind chill at a minimum. Maximize your experience with the correct gear.
Lastly, know your ability, limit your ego and listen to your body. Start with a couple warm up laps to check in with your body on the easier runs, and then progress as fatigue and skill dictate. Do not get cliffed out or over your head. Ski to your ability and comfort level and be respectful of the other skiers particularly in high traffic areas. Taking breaks to take in the moment, stretch and talk with friends is recommended. Live to ski another day by listening to your body. Quitting early when your desire to take another fun run is high can be the key to continuing to the next day, or trip, and avoid the infamous ski area clinic statement, "it was my last run".
Rhett Griggs, M.D. is the mule at Griggs Orthopedics (gO) located in Crested Butte and Gunnison. He is the orthopedic director of the GVH mountain clinic and the medical director of United States Ski Mountaineering Association. For more about gO and what gO can do for you, contact griggsortho.com or 970-964-8472.