It’s suddenly November and things are already starting to look pretty jolly! My home town of Calgary, Alberta, Canada just got a huge dump of the white stuff; turning the city into a winter wonderland (and a very risky place to drive). It’s both a blessing and a curse to be able to observe these conditions thanks to the magic of the internet and not experience them firsthand. Sure the sun and surf are nice, and scraping ice off a windshield isn’t fun, but when you grow up north of the 49th parallel… sigh. As a winter sports loving Canuck transplanted to southern California, this time of year always gets me craving more chill in the air and the beloved precipitation that grants us the ability to ski, skate, and snowball fight!
Since the snow isn’t right outside my door, and I have to make a special trip to reach it, I’m afforded ample opportunity to adequately prepare for my favorite winter activities. As a fitness professional, this got me thinking of some hard-earned considerations for winter warriors who share in the joy of this season’s athletic pursuits. There are some common circumstances shared by many of our favorite winter leisure and sports activities; needing to stay warm, staying dry, etc., but there’s one aspect that is often overlooked but is well worth addressing; the boots!
Let’s take a moment to consider Gray Cook and Mike Boyle’s “joint by joint” approach in this context, wherein the primary need for each of the body’s joints is catalogued. The primary role for the ankle joint is mobility, the primary role for the knee is stability, the primary need for the hip is mobility and so on and so forth; these roles alternate as we progress up the chain of joints. Now consider that when we spend a glorious Saturday on the slopes, our ankle joints are fairly immobilized by the boots we’ve been wearing for many hours. This might cause the ankle to become stiff, misconstruing it’s current condition to signal a change in it’s primary role from that of mobility to one of stability. In this same scenario it might also occur to the knee that given the unaccustomed rigidness of the ankle, perhaps it might be called upon to mobilize more readily (especially on those moguls) and thus the hip joint might stiffen up to pick up some of the stability work. If, on top of all these role reversals of the lower body joints, we consider that skiing, skating and snowboarding keep us in a forward-flexed athletic stance for extended periods, then you’ve got a perfect recipe for a stiff, sore and fatigued low back!