For most of us, skiing isn’t something we get to do every week of the year. In fact, it’s often a bit of a shock to our bodies when we suddenly clamp them into ski boots and fling ourselves down a mountain. Wild weather, long days, increased alcohol and food consumption also put our bodies under a different set of stresses – but aren’t they fun! This is why we often ask, what's the best way to recover after a day on the slopes?
In all seriousness however, if you spend a little time helping your body recover from a ski day – you’ll be able to ski better and for longer the next day, and so on. You’ll also be less likely to sustain an injury or do any damage.
A hot tub, bath, steam or sauna
As your body warms up in hot water, steam or air, your blood vessels will expand. This helps to get nutrient-rich blood flowing throughout your body and shifts lactic acid (a waste product of exercise), which are key elements in helping our bodies recover. Warm water also brings down swelling and loosens tight muscles. You could add some magnesium or Epsom salts to a bath to get even more of an inflammatory effect. Luckily Méribel is full of chalets with hot tubs – as us which we have availability in!
An ice bath or roll in the snow
On the contrary, pro sports people and wellness gurus have recently been championing ice baths as a way to recover. A dip into iced water could be even better for inflammation – if you can’t handle a full ice bath, roll in some fresh snow on your balcony or use an ice pack. As with hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas, avoid ice baths if you have significantly high or low blood pressure – as you could be doing your body more harm than good.
S t r e t c h i t o u t
Every physio will tell you how essential stretching is for recovery. The best idea is to stretch before as well as after you ski. You should use slightly different routines – one with more movement (dynamic) before, and one with less movement, just holding stretch positions (static) for after. There are tonnes of quick routines on YouTube and many are ski- or snowboard-specific. Test a few and see what feels good for you – although, be sure to stretch the big muscles you use in skiing like quads, hamstrings and glutes. This is when the benefit of having a spacious chalet can help!
Using your bodyweight along a foam roller or ball creates pressure that helps to release muscle knots and tight fascia in your body that are hard to stretch with yoga/stretching alone. If you can’t bring a full roller on holiday, use a tennis ball or even a frozen water bottle. To start, roll all over your limbs and body to get the blood flowing. Then, return to specific points that feel tense or tight, push the roller into them and hold for a few seconds.
If moving your own body over a roller or through a stretch routine feels like just too much effort, or you’d like to add a luxury touch to your recovery, a massage is an excellent option! A massage will move blood and lactic acid into/out of your muscles and relieve tight spots and knots. Ski resorts often have spas (or hotels where you can use the spa separately) but you can also find ‘at-home’ services where they come to the chalet. Get in touch with our team if this is something you’d like to organise.
Some gentle exercise like swimming will aid recovery. Luckily, Méribel has a fantastic pool. And don’t panic when we say ‘exercise’ – even bobbing in the pool takes the weight off tired legs and joints. Add a bit of movement and you’ll help your circulation – moving that dreaded lactic acid out of your muscles and carrying oxygen and nutrients around.
And finally, a recovery aid which requires only the littlest of effort and can be done for free, in the chalet! Sleep is an excellent healer, but it needs to be of fairly good quality – passing out on the sofa after six pints and five Jagerbombs doesn’t count. However, we understand that early bedtimes aren’t always very appealing on holiday. Try to alternate late nights with ones where you get 8-9 hours sleep. Your body will thank you.
What about before you head to the slopes?
A final note on recovery. There are lots of things you can do after a long day on the hill to help your body recover, including everything on this list. However, for maximum energy, stamina and injury prevention in the rest of the week, make sure you set yourself up well before you ski. We’ve already mentioned sleep and stretching (and we all know walking to the lift in ski boots is a great warm up!), but make sure you’ve eaten well and are really hydrated before going out too.