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Starting over - what would you do?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I had a pretty rough last couple seasons. Early last season I had a pretty bad back injury that ended my season. I am finally just starting to feel healed despite skiing this season.

As a result I have lost stamina, strength, muscle memory and a good bit of skill blending abilities (probably lost more skills than I like to admit as well). My brain still knows how to ski, but it seems my body forgot! Or maybe there is just a disconnect? I have also been skiing defensively, which doesn't help. I was able to muddle through this season using a more tactical, survival approach but it isn't much fun. Some of my 'tactics' kind of sucked on the real tough terrain. I lost enthusiasm and considered quiting for good! I dialed it back and skied mostly just with my 9 year old which made it worthwhile, but I wasn't motivated to get up on the hill as often as usual.

So, I have decided I need to start over, at the beginning! If you had to rebuild yourself for skiing both mentally and physically, what steps would you take?
post #2 of 15
Without going into too much detail, I have determined after 35 years of skiing that it's far better for me to ski myself back into ski shape than to try to do it in the gym.  I've hurt my knees far worse while weightlifting than I ever did skiing.  I do a bit of low impact stuff to get ready for the season, but all I can point to as helping is lots of situps to firm up the 'core'.  Good luck with your reboot!

Didn't you make it out to the SLC gathering this February?
post #3 of 15
 I have the complete opposite perspective to SpikeDog in that I think skiing to get in shape for skiing is a bad idea.

A couple of things I would suggest.  

- Work on strength training as well as mobility training.  And include power work. If you're unsure how to do this, I strongly suggest you find a good trainer to help out.  But be sure it's someone who is experienced with people who have had back injuries, because without proper training, previous back injuries can become recurring back pain.  Keys to consider for this is that improving hip mobility will significantly reduce your risk of re-injuring your back - with the side benefit that it will improve your skiing, and that core exercises involving repeated flexion (such as situps and crunches) should be avoided. 
- Strength training is a very good thing.  Squats, contrary to what some believe, are the best thing you can do for your knees.  If you do them properly.  Squats done poorly can be hard on the knees.  Since you have a history of back injury however, I'd recommend exclusively doing single-leg exercises so that you can get the leg strength benefit without the extra weight on your back.  It also has the added bonus of providing lateral core strength because of the stabilizing you need to do.  
- Back on the topic of core  - it is really important that you learn how to stabilize your core.  It sounds like the simplest thing and yet most people do it very poorly.  If you don't know of a good trainer, then pilates might be a good option to try.

I'm glad you mention the mental because that's really important as well.  I see you are in PA?  If your winter was anything like ours (I'm just a little north of you), then it was probably also a pretty icy season for you.  So probably worth giving yourself a bit of a break. It's natural to be a little gunshy when returning from an injury - especially a major one.  That makes one tentative, but unfortunately tentative is not your friend when skiing icy conditions.  So you got a bit of a raw deal there.  

This was my first year back on skis after injury as well - I missed 2 seasons with a hip injury that resulted in surgery in Jan 2009.  So I was a bit hesitant as well.  A lot hesitant once it got icy. What helped me significantly was lessons. I'm fortunate in that as an instructor, I have free access to amazing instructors.  I highly suggest you plan to take some lessons to start the season next year.  Even if you're an expert skier.  For me the lessons helped immensely, because instead of trying to overcome my fear - which is not so specific - I had someone point out the little things that I was doing wrong - probably as a result of the fear.  I fixed the little things, which gave me back some control, which lead me to be less fearful.  It was pretty amazing actually.  

I hope that helps, and I really hope that you don't decide to give it up.  It really is a great activity!  

Elsbeth 
post #4 of 15

Like a lot of us here, came back from a long absence from skiing.  First day out had the same thoughts, but the inner instructor took over and a fair quantity of the abilities came back. 

I went back to doing some drills and exercises.  Lots of edge control and balance stuff: hokey stops, falling leaf, tip to tail garlands, Charleston, carving wedge, one leg skiing,  and what ever else seems like a good idea at the time.  I still do them on the cat tracks or greens (really irritates boarders too). 

Being in the best reasonable shape possible helps too.  Like a lot of us I have some knee, shoulder, and lower back issues, so a little extra attention to those areas add confidence.

If this isn't working for you consider a lesson.  Would suggest a morning session so you have the day to work on it and really own what you pick up.

Just don't quit, it is way too much fun.

post #5 of 15
 Take heart.
My husband was an expert skier in his youth--ski patrol in Arapahoe in the old days.  Knees went bad, and he had to stop skiing.  25 years later, he got his knees replaced.  In the meantime, skiing has changed, skis have changed, boots have changed and (gawd) body has changed (a "few" pounds...).

It took him awhile to figure out how to deal with coming back to skiing--for many of the same reasons you say.  He finally decided that, like all of us aging folks, he had to think kindly on and be proud of the skier he "was" and embark on the adventure of finding out what kind of skier he now "is."  It helped that I had learned how to ski, but was still in the early stages and learning who I was on skis.  So we had this adventure together.

And lo and behold--we find out a lot about ourselves and our relationship.  Like: I'm more daring, ultimately, than he is (!--god only knows what I would have done had I skied in my 20s...!).  Like: his "old" skills were very useful once his body learned how to adapt them to the new style and his "new" body and his "new" age. Like: we're really proud of each other and "celebrate" that difficult thing that gets mastered (yeah, it's corny.  so what?)

So try to remember to be patient with yourself.  You're the same man.  You're the same skier.  Your body will show you again.
post #6 of 15
 I forgot to add--
I am so impressed, proud of, have admiration for, fall in love again with, my husband as I watched him go through this struggle in the last few years.  I see courage in him I had never seen before.
So know that others respect you more for what you are embarking on.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by evaino View Post

 I have the complete opposite perspective to SpikeDog in that I think skiing to get in shape for skiing is a bad idea. 

Elsbeth 

You bring up some good points.  To clarify my approach somewhat:
-I get bored with 'training' rather quickly, and would much rather participate in the activity, be it skiing, racquetball, or basketball.  But I'm not going to mountain bike all summer just so I can be a better skier if I don't like mtn biking in the first place.
-I've never had a major injury, and never get that far out of shape to begin with.  I do train better if I have a goal in mind - this usually consists of a major ski trip midwinter to a distant locale.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpikeDog View Post

You bring up some good points.  To clarify my approach somewhat:
-I get bored with 'training' rather quickly, and would much rather participate in the activity, be it skiing, racquetball, or basketball.  

I hear you, and agree that this is definitely a challenge!  Training is SOOOO good for you, but for many, it is really boring. 

It helps if you have a workout that has progressions so you're getting stronger/more mobile with a bit of variety.  I find listening to tunes also helps.  But at the end of the day, it's still training and not playing.  

Sports are great - good exercise, social, and fun.  And cross-training by doing things like playing basketball is an excellent way to get in/stay in shape for skiing.  But you won't quite get the bang for your buck that you get with training - and your body will unfortunately pick up some bad habits on the court that can increase your injury risk instead of decreasing it. 

I find having a good mix of fun activities and training really helps. So you're not just "working out".  The other thing I find this does is that typically people start to notice performance improvements in their fun activities as a result of the work outs, and that tends to help with the motivation to keep doing it.  In fact I prefer it if my clients have a mix of training and playing.

Elsbeth 
post #9 of 15
MattL,
I had a back injury in 2004 that ended my stint as a competitive cyclist.  Despite PT and staying active in all the "right" ways, my back nagged me for years.  It wasn't until I started kayaking 2 years ago that my back problems went completely away.  The use of my core in this sport developed the strength and flexibility I needed, without even knowing it!  I now am free from pain and stiffness.

I do have a troublesome left knee that has greatly reduced my ski time this season.  I did the necessary PT and am in the gym, continuing to strengthen the supporting muscles.  When I did ski this year, I found that I too had lost muscle memory, and had to think about everything I was doing.  It wasn't really that fun because I couldn't relax and let go.  I got frustrated.

After talking to several people, and taking a lesson, I decided to take up telemark skiing.  It is strengthening the same supporting muscles in my legs that I work on in the gym.  Because I'm learning new movements, I have to develop muscle memory all over again.  Although the process is much slower than rebuilding my alpine skills, I think the long term benefits are worth it, and now I have a real excuse to look like a dork on skis!  I can now relax and laugh at myself because I'm starting anew, without the pressure to get back to where I was on alpine equipment.

So, perhaps you might want to think about taking up an activity that will aid in strengthening your core and back, and allow you to have fun in the process.  When you get back on skis next year, ski with your 9-year-old and focus on skill-building together.  Above all, go easy on yourself.  We do this for fun.  Sometimes injuries and life gets in the way.  When I get frustrated on the mountain, I stop and remind myself to take in the scenery and be thankful that I'm just out there.
post #10 of 15
MattL, come inline skating!

Do it 3x week and you will get more tactical and blending practice than you ever thought possible off skis, ever.  
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattL View Post

So, I have decided I need to start over, at the beginning! If you had to rebuild yourself for skiing both mentally and physically, what steps would you take?

Start a NEW summer sport.   _Completely_ new to you so that some of that freshness & enthusiasm & new perception carries over into winter.

Sticking with the same old/same old  will kill your progress  DED dead.
post #12 of 15
1) Tell yourself skiing with your 9-year old is worth it (and it is).  My 9-year old has me skiing the double diamonds again, and I'm 54.  At least he gets me away from skiing the whole day with my wife, who only likes blue runs.
2) Find low impact exercises that won't kill your back and will strengthen your stomach and legs.  Using The Skiers Edge is an example.  It will give you the skiing "feeling" again, and burning the calories can't hurt.  It is currently the best machine there is for what you need.
3) Ski away from other people.  Go when it isn't crowded or find empty trails going to slower chairlifts, etc.  Learn to feel good again about skiing.
4) Take your kid cross country skiing.  It shouldn't hurt your back and it is also fun.  If you can stand on alpine skis, you can learn to XC easily enough.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hey I just wanted to update everyone now that I know what a big part of my problem was (and is). I have a chronic inner ear issue that has been affecting my balance. It crept up on me and apparently affected my skiing on the steeper and more challenging slopes. I felt fine in every way except got vertigo at certain times. I was able to compensate on less steep terrain and didn't really notice.

It has been progressively getting worse to the point that I noticed it even on flat ground. And then my ear clogged up completely and is affecting my hearing as well. There were some days I couldn't even drive. The ear was somewhat clogged before but progressed so slowly that I didn't really notice for a while.

I was on antibiotics in Feb. which seemed to clear it up, then it came back. I tried decongestants for a while that barely helped. Now I am on a stronger and longer course of antibiotics. If this doesn't work I have an appt. with the ENT for next month.

It's pretty debilitating. I hope this is something that isn't permanent or many of my favorite activities are in deep jeopardy.
post #14 of 15

Tympanostomies can be for adults, too....

 

I started off snowboarding, which everyone thought would be a good idea with my reconstructed knee. Well, 1 shoulder blow-out and 1 missed ankle fracture later, and I'm on skis....

I second the "it's fun, just focus on that" approach....Things'll come back to you...

post #15 of 15

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattL View Post

Hey I just wanted to update everyone now that I know what a big part of my problem was (and is). I have a chronic inner ear issue that has been affecting my balance. It crept up on me and apparently affected my skiing on the steeper and more challenging slopes. I felt fine in every way except got vertigo at certain times. I was able to compensate on less steep terrain and didn't really notice.

It has been progressively getting worse to the point that I noticed it even on flat ground. And then my ear clogged up completely and is affecting my hearing as well. There were some days I couldn't even drive. The ear was somewhat clogged before but progressed so slowly that I didn't really notice for a while.

I was on antibiotics in Feb. which seemed to clear it up, then it came back. I tried decongestants for a while that barely helped. Now I am on a stronger and longer course of antibiotics. If this doesn't work I have an appt. with the ENT for next month.

It's pretty debilitating. I hope this is something that isn't permanent or many of my favorite activities are in deep jeopardy.

 

Have you tried doing any proprioception (fancy word for balance :) ) exercises? I was actually listening to a lecture about balance this afternoon as part of a golf fitness seminar.  It was a good reminder that first and foremost the biggest impact on balance are your eyes, then ears, then proprioceptors (stabilizing muscles).  The lecture I attended talked about training the proprioceptors becuase of the 3, that's the one we can impact the most.  I would suggest this is even more important for you since you know that you have a deficiency.

 

Single leg balance exercises (think knee and hip of the leg your holding at 90 degrees); then eyes closed version. Aim for 30 then 60s each leg.  As you progress, add movement (eyes open first then closed), like moving arms out to one side, rotating the upper body, extending the up leg fwd and back and crossing to the opposite side...

 

Elsbeth

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