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Why do the outside portions of my calves always hurt after a day of skiing, even though I have stretched them and worked out to strengthen them?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey Guys,

I am new to skiing (going on my 8th day this season, my first) and have tried to get my body ready for snowbird by working out consistently (for the first time in my life (yeah I caught the bug)) on my calves, quads, hammies, knee muscles, core, and tricepts and while I can notice the change in all areas (though I still have a lot of work to do) I cannot get the outside of my calves (gastrocnemis and soleus) to not feel extremely sore and really tight after just on day of skiing.

What can it be?  I thought it may be the boots but I don't put them too tight.  I can still put a finger between the back of my calf and the boot.  However, the tightness/soreness seems to come from walking with the boot rather than skiing with them.

A medical professional told me he thought it might be blood flow constiction, but he was not sure.

What gives?  Please help me in my quest to be able to at least ski 3 - 5 days in a row.

Any advice would be extremely appreciated!

Thanks!

Mario

post #2 of 13
First thought - starting your ski life at Snowbird is not the easiest place in the world to take up the sport but you'll sure have good snow to learn on!
If you think it's from walking get a locker and put your boots on in the lodge for a two or three days and see if it makes a difference. Some folks avoid almost all walking in ski boots.
If you're still renting boots try a different size - go smaller - rentals are almost always too big.
Try some exercises and stretches that work your legs from side to side instead of just front and back. These are not as common as traditional leg exercises but they will use muscles you use for skiing that you may not use in everyday life. I tried a few exercises this season that isolated a muscle group that hurt like heck for a few days. I was pleasantly surprised at how good my legs felt after a day on the hill and I attribute that to the new emphasis on side to side exercises.
As a flat lander who can only ski on spurts of a few days at a time I have some of the same problems. As your skiing gets better it will also get easier and less physically demanding. The hardest turn on your legs is the snow plow, the next hardest is the stem and easiest is the parallel turn the big guys use so as you improve the problem will go away.
Don't forget the Ibuprofen or something similar to fight discomfort and inflammation. They are more than just painkillers.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks Steve.
I will get that a try, but I have to say that the pain has subsided.  I don't know why, maybe because I had to take a day break (my wife tore her ACL on a green at Snowbird (and not because of a fall it just gave out, then she fell, but that is a story for another thread).

Yeah, snowbird is THE WORST for beginners, not because it does not have beginner terrain, which it barely does have, but because they mislead people by labeling blues and even blacks (top of big Emma) as greens just to get people there (again, something that will be address in another thread).

Anyhow, I will try side to side stretches next time, but I wonder if the pain is just due to acclimation.
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by esumsea View Post

Thanks Steve.
I will get that a try, but I have to say that the pain has subsided.  I don't know why, maybe because I had to take a day break (my wife tore her ACL on a green at Snowbird (and not because of a fall it just gave out, then she fell, but that is a story for another thread).

Yeah, snowbird is THE WORST for beginners, not because it does not have beginner terrain, which it barely does have, but because they mislead people by labeling blues and even blacks (top of big Emma) as greens just to get people there (again, something that will be address in another thread).

Anyhow, I will try side to side stretches next time, but I wonder if the pain is just due to acclimation.
 


we told you not to go there.......


and big emma is REALLY easy to ski in fact at snowbird its is novice level terrain.

ok serious advice

did you try to remove the spoilers from the boot?
post #5 of 13
 I wonder if your problem isn't from having a boot that's too big.  I'm thinking that you are guarding your lower leg by firing up those muscles to provide support that should come from a somewhat snugger boot.  Rental boots are the worst and the wedge turn is hard on the muscles.  A good instructor should help you get past the wedge quickly and help you with your terrain choices.
post #6 of 13
Esumsea,
If you are holding yourself in a deep crouch as you ski, you will generate sore muscles.  Just holding yourself in such a stance puts an enormous strain on those muscles.  Think "isometric" contraction for hours.  Not good.
 
If you have any clothing other than one pair of socks stuffed down into those boot cuffs, that may also be pressing on your lower leg and causing a compression bruise.  

Look at skiers as you ride the chairlift and try to identify which ones are novices and which ones are experts from their stance.  Then ask a friend who skis with you to watch you as you ski down the next run.   Do this from in front, from the side, and from behind - be thorough.   Then when you are back on the chair let that friend tell you which skiers out there you most resemble.   We can't see ourselves ski, and it's common for skiers to make big mistakes in evaluating how they are skiing without feedback from practiced eyes.   Put on your armor; this information may hurt!  (Video can be even better, if taken from front, side, and behind.)

The way advanced skiers balance themselves over their skis is noticeably different from novices.  You'll notice that they move side to side and flex and extend their knees as they ski.  Set these movements and the stance of these advanced skiers as your long-term goal (it takes time and usually instruction to get there.)  As you get better, you will actually use less muscle power because you'll find ways to "stack" yourself over your skis so you won't have to hold yourself rigidly in a squat with partially contracted muscles.  Sore muscles will disappear.

For right now, tighter boots may help.  The boot cuffs will add support to your ankle so you won't have to rely on your calves to hold the ankles as you ski.  You'll be able to press your shins against the boot cuffs and give your calves some rest.  Boots are the most important gear you use, not the skis.  Getting the right boots on your feet will make an enormous difference in your skiing.  When you are ready to buy boots, ask around and find the most recommended professional bootfitter in the area and go to that person to get fitted to just the right boots.    Be prepared to pay; it's worth the money.  

Best of all, instruction can help you find better and more efficient ways to get yourself balanced while gliding downhill.  

By the way, if you are skiing in a continuous wedge day after day, you are going to hurt.  You need to find a way to move to parallel - it's so much better on the body.  
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses!

 

To respond:

 

BushwakerinPA,

 

Yeah, I know I should have listened to you. I guess I should not have trusted the Snowbird ski school that assured me repeatedly (I must have called 4 separate times) that Snowbird would have lots of terrain for me to have fun with that was not very hard. I definitely don’t agree with that.

 

As far as your comment on big Emma, yes, the middle part of big Emma is definitely easy, a green.  However, the very top 50 feet of it can easily be classified as a black in most places (as has been commented in the thread I started and as was remarked by my Snowbird ski instructor).  The next 100 yards as well as the final dip are probably closer to a blue than a green.

 

That is just my opinion.  Obviously, I have not gone to enough resorts to stand firm on it, but it is from the point of view of a beginner.

 

Lastly, I don’t know what spoilers are, so I did not remove them.

 

 

Tentonpwdrjunki,

 

The boots were probably too big, which is why I will probably get a pair of boots for next season.  Yeah, an instructor helps which is why I have elected to be instructed about 80% of my time on the slopes.  Unfortunately, the instruction I got in Snowbird was awful.  So much so, that it destroyed the confidence of my wife and me.

 

Which brings me to…

 

LiquidFeet,

 

I did not have anything other than a thin sock in there and I was NOT holding myself in a deep crouch UNTIL my snowbird instructor insisted that I crouched over my skies holding a C.  Unfortunately, I listened to him, which may have contributed to my problems on the mountain.

 As for the rest of your advice, it is vey cogent.  I know that I don’t have the proper stance (partly because it has been screwed up).  I am going to get a video an instructor suggested (I will post the name later) that will help me visualize the proper technique.  Hopefully, that will help. 

 

As far as my turns, they are not wedge turns, but rather parallel turns.  I only use a slight wedge when I gain too much speed in a straightaway.  Even then, the wedge is very slight.  Mostly, I use turns to slow down.

 

Lastly, as I have stated, I am going to buy some boots.  Peter Glenn holds a big sale in October down here in Florida, where they rent a convention center and have a bunch of bootfitters help you pick the right boot. So hopefully, this will help with a bunch of my problems (other than the fact that I suck! ;)) I am willing to pay (hopefully under $300).

 

The funny thing is that my Calves stopped hurting after two days and never hurt again.  Maybe I just needed to get used to skiing.  We will see if it happens again.  I will report next year.


Edited by esumsea - 4/6/10 at 1:56pm
post #8 of 13
Definitely gets your own boots. if there is one piece of equipment that every person who steps foot on a ski slope should own, its boot. Boots are the most customizable part of a ski setup, and the hardest to replicate the exact setup. Boots are also the one item most likely to cause severe pain. When I used to race my coaches always said to carry boots on a plane no matter what, you can replace a pair of skis( or borrow) at the other end, you can't get a boot custom fit to your foot quickly.
post #9 of 13
Check out ebay, you can get a pair of New old stock boots for under $200 and then spend any extra money on fitting. Where do you usually ski? I recommend finding a race shop near where you normally ski, call them and set up an appointment to get your boots fit. <opinion>Retail shops suck at making boots fit right.</opinion>

Quote:
Originally Posted by esumsea View Post

Lastly, as I have stated, I am going to buy some boots.  Peter Glenn holds a big sale in October down here in Florida, where they rent a convention center and have a bunch of bootfitters help you pick the right boot. So hopefully, this will help with a bunch of my problems (other than the fact that I suck! ;)) I am willing to pay (hopefully under $300).

 

The funny thing is that my Calves stopped hurting after two days and never hurt again.  Maybe I just needed to get used to skiing.  We will see if it happens again.  I will report next year.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I have been wary of buying boots without butting my foot in them.  I am also wary of buying used boots.  i know you sai New/Old stock, which implies they are new, but seeing that I would not be able to use them until later on, I would not know if there were problems before it was too late.  As far as boot fitting, I have been wondering about that.  Is it better to get them fit here in my home town, or where I will first ski with them?  The problem is if I buy a boot shere I ski (which will probably be either in Tahoe, SLC or Summit County) I will have to buy them in a resort shop, which means they will be overpriced.  However, I can get them adjusted throughout my ski trip.  If I buy them here, I could get a good price, and also get them adjusted when I am come back, but during the trip, I don't know if I would have much recourse.  It is something to ponder in the offseason.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by esumsea View Post

I have been wary of buying boots without butting my foot in them. 

 

You bet!

Buying on line is great if you know exactly what you need, but if you don't, you're probably throwing money away. Better to spend a little more at place where you can try them on, hopefully with the assistance of competent bootfitter.

Good bootfitters can work some real miracles, but if the boot doesn't fit properly to begin with (too big, too wide, etc.) about the best any of them can do is make it fit "less bad".

While you might pay less at home, buying while you're away gives you the advantage of road testing your purchase. Even the best bootfitter rarely gets it 100% right the first time, and it's likely you'll be back for a couple of tweaks before everything is perfect. That could be a challenge if you're in Tahoe and your fitter is in Miami.

It's worth the extra money to get it right. Nothing like paying upwards of $70 for a lift ticket only to spend half your day in the lodge with your boots off.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks Gary, that is definately something to think about.
post #13 of 13
 esumsea, you may be focusing your concern on the wrong muscles.  The peroneal muscles are on the sides of your calves, and are responsible for tipping your ankle, a common activity in skiing.  If these guys are the culprit, it could be because they are not acclimated to the concentrated amount of activity skiing requires.  It could also be that the boots you're using are not providing the proper support.  I would guess the latter.  
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Beginner Zone › Why do the outside portions of my calves always hurt after a day of skiing, even though I have stretched them and worked out to strengthen them?