Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Doc's Tips: 3 Tips to Help Recover After a Day of Skiing

I recently got a chance to sit down with Dr. Julie Herman, M.D., an internal medicine physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 
After a lengthy and exhausting day on the slopes, I was curious about what modern medicine says are the best strategies to recover.  Here is her advice:

1. Have a beer

You've worked hard today. You deserve a beer.

I knew I liked this doctor. But make sure that after your beer, you consume a generous amount of water. A sports drink with electrolytes also would be beneficial. Proper hydration after a skiing workout allows your muscles to rebuild properly and maintains circulation (bringing essential nutrients to your muscles and the body's other tissues). Multiple research studies have shown that when you are dehydrated, you are not able to exercise as strenuously and your muscles take longer to heal. So drink up!

2. Soak in a hot bath or hot tub

Taking a refreshing soak in a hot tub (or a hot bath if you are not staying in the chalets in Courchevel) relaxes your muscles and helps remove the lactic acid that builds up in your muscles following skiing.

The heat of the bath also increases peripheral circulation in your body (more blood flow to muscles, joints, and skin), which helps rebuild any strained tissues and cells in these areas. It's also thought to be beneficial to perform light muscle massages in the bath and to stretch after your soak. However, people with circulation/heart problems should consult their doctor first before taking hot baths or using hot tubs. Pregnant women should not take hot baths. But otherwise, enjoy and relax some hot water!

3. Eat protein

Eating foods with protein gives your body the fuel needed to rebuild glycogen (energy) stores that are lost from your muscles during exercise.

Protein consumption also increases the amount of amino acids available to the body for rebuilding and drives your metabolism to increase muscle buildup. Protein consumed through diet and food is usually more bioactive and effective than protein supplements. Foods high in protein consist of meats, milk and dairy, eggs, beans, nuts, and legumes.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

How To: Recover Gracefully From a Ski Crash

Want to know how to get back up (gracefully) from falling while skiing?  Check out this instructional video made specially for SkiBlog-SkiBlog by Ryan and John of RAWfootyfilms.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ski Training - Functional Style

by Lauren Bunney

Ski season is just around the corner if not already in full swing depending on where in the world you are living. But, the majority of the season is still ahead so it is not too late to get into shape in order to get the most out of your season.

Whether you are a skier or snowboarder or even a snow "Bunney" (pun intended), everyone can stand to get into better physical conditioning. If you caught the Resort Guide 2011 edition of Ski Magazine, they featured a few variations of functional training exercise methods that will help get you into ski shape.

Functional training is by definition exercising in proper biomechanical form using the same movements you do in your every day function of life. For example, you sit in a chair and stand up, you are doing a squat. You pick stuff up off the floor, you are doing a deadlift. In a more traditional form of training, you might find yourself on a leg extension circuit training machine but, in real life you never sit in a chair and kick a ball, right? That's what I mean by functional training.

Every day all day long, you are constantly moving your own body weight through space so, why not train for your favorite sports and activities by lifting your own body weight? Use your overall body weight as your resistance as opposed to putting a pin in a weight stack and setting it to 40lbs, when you are lifting way more than 40lbs all day long.

Enough said, I'm not trying to beat a dead horse and you should get my point by now.

While skiing and boarding, we are standing on our feet moving through space resisting the effects of gravity and unstable ground. We sit and stand in and out of the chairlifts as well as a bigger range of motion should we fall and have to pick ourselves up off the ground.

We need to use our body for our own exercise training resistance by changing the angles of our body with gravity, self adjusting, or scaling the intensity of the various exercises we are performing for our training program in a commercial or home gym.

Here are a few exercises and their variations of scaling to meet the various needs of each individual based on their age, medical history, and current fitness level.

Let's start with the Air Squat. The Air Squat is a basic movement we use to sit in a chair and stand back up moving our ankles, knees, and hips similar to the movement and absorption of skiing and boarding.

Once we have met proper form and range of motion of the air squat, we can increase the intensity by doing a Jumping Squat - jumping off the ground at the end of each rep trying to defy gravity just as you would through a mogul field or turning with the fall line of the slope.

We can then take the air squat and the jumping squat to the next level by using weighted resistance and doing an exercise such as a Thruster or Wall Ball.

You can even take the same concept as the air squat and apply it to a Lunge movement. Great for telemark skiing.

Then we have to look at upper body training that believe it or not has a lot to do with skiing and boarding. There is stability and balance you have to worry about if you actually want to enjoy your ski run and not fall. Your upper body also plays a role as the timing mechanism for a pole plant for skiers, hip rotation, balance, and upper body stability for boarders.

Using your body weight for resistance works your core and improves your stability. You don't have to do 100 crunches a day to work your abdominals. Your abs work every rep for your body weight movements. We'll get back to your core in just a bit.

Moving right along, or I should say upwards, double jointed pushing and pulling movements will work your entire upper body. Yes, I am talking about Pull Ups and Push Ups. Everyone can do push ups and pull ups. You heard me right, EVERYONE!! All you have to do is learn the scaling options of those exercises to learn how to do them at your level.

You can also perform Shoulder Depression exercises to build up strength in your upper body which in turn you will see a direct effect poling across the flats.

Now that you have done a pulling movement for your upper body, you have to do a pushing movement to balance it out, working both the front and back of your torso. I'm talking about a simple Push Up scaled to your level.

Okay, so I mentioned that you do not have to do 100 crunches in order to work your core. But, I know there are still plenty of people out there who will still insist on doing a traditional sit up or crunch. So, if you are going to do them, do Ab-Mat Sit Ups.

Cardio training - do it!! But there is a variety of ways to get your cardio in. Yes you can go for a run or a bike ride but, you can also get a bigger bang for your buck, or time, by doing CrossFit.

CrossFit by definition is high intensity functional training with varying modalities where you merge your cardio and strength all together and it is completely scalable for all levels.

So let's take the exercises I just gave to you and put them together in a CrossFit training program.

             AMRAP = As Many Rounds As Possible of

                        1 round =
                               5 pull ups
                               10 push ups
                               15 squats

Start with AMRAP for 8 minutes then build to 12, 15, then 20 minutes. Keep repeating the 5, 10, 15 rep scheme as fast as you can for as many times as possible in the designated time. Be sure to maintain proper form or don't count the rep. It's about quality and integrity for the best benefit.

There is a wide variety of exercises that you can expand on but, the few that I mentioned will give you a good jump start.

Get fit and enjoy your season!!

Think Snow!!

Lauren Bunney is co-owner of Arenal Fitness, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.  She is an instructor in mulitple CrossFit specialties, as well as a certified specialist in conditioning exercise, post-rehab exercise, and medical exercise.  She is also an instructor and Senior Level Ski Patroller with the National Ski Patrol.  To find out more about Lauren and Arenal Fitness, visit

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ski Egypt - Creating Slopes Other Than the Pyramids

Have you ever wanted to spend the holidays in Egypt, see the pyramids, bathe in political crises, and bake in the exhaustive sun? Me too, except the lack of skiing has always deterred me. However, this may soon be a possibility in a few years time...

The Majid Al Futtaim group, resposible for the creation of the revolutionary Ski Dubai, announced earlier this spring that it is looking to take it's indoor ski resort within-a-mega-mall idea and transplant it into the heart of Egypt, according to an article in the The National.

Indoor skiing? Yes, this incredibly cool new fashion has popped up all over the globe - in addition to Dubai, cities in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Poland, and China among others, have opened indoor snow resorts, in which a special technology carpet is installed on a man-made slope. Usually, these ski areas also supplement the slopes with artificial snow, a common luxury in outdoor snow resorts where snow is not as naturally abundant as desired. These indoor ski areas have been quite a popular hit, especially where people see snow for the first time at these science-fiction filled fantasy worlds. Ski Dubai has been one of the most notable and successful indoor ski resorts, complete with a mountaintop lodge to warm up in.

What can you expect of the skiing? Reports have been that its surprisingly like natural snow skiing. Considering the base layer is carpet rather than snow, expect the riding to be a little bit slower, emphasizing the importance good balance. Additionally, since the artificial snow can create patches of snow, maintain a closer stance. This makes it more likely that both of your skis will travel through snow of the same consistency, decreasing any slips that occur from uneven frictional forces on your skis.

Lesson of the story: the next time you think of traveling to Africa, think of skiing in Africa. As if I had to tell you to think about skiing...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Avalanche Awareness and Kits

by White Blancmange - Alpine Experiences

A properly prepared avalanche kit could be the difference between life and death (and the life you save may well be your own). If you are thinking of heading off-piste, you need to know that you and everyone in your party are as safe as you can possibly be. This means hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. When taking the road less travelled you are inevitably at greater risk than you would be when staying on the beaten path, primarily because you are further away from other skiers and the established infrastructure for dealing with mountain emergencies. Off-piste adventures can be extremely rewarding, but being ready for the challenge is of the utmost importance. When you are on the other side of the mountain, far away from your VIP ski chalet, you have to know how to react if things go wrong.

Advances in modern technology have led to the development of all sorts of innovative safety gadgets, but topping the (low-tech) list of must-have off-piste accessories are the humble snow shovel and avalanche probe. Fortunately, advances have also been made in the field of ultra-portable manual snow moving tools. This means that your collapsible (or foldable) snow shovel will take up less space and add less weight to your gear than ever before. For gadgetry, the number one high-tech device you will want to take with you off-piste is a working set of avalanche transceivers.

Avalanche transceivers are your best hope of being found/finding someone after an avalanche occurs. You should make certain that every member of your group is wearing one before heading out onto the slopes. You should also check that the batteries are charged and that all devices are connected and functioning correctly with a standard dry-run test. When setting out, all transceivers should be set to “transmit” and left that way for the duration of an uneventful trip. If the trip becomes eventful (in the negative sense of the word) you will be glad you’re wearing your transceiver.

All transceivers need to be worn as close to the body as possible to avoid them being torn off should you find yourself taking a tumble. If an avalanche occurs, those not caught in the deluge are able to switch their transceivers to “receive”, giving the best possible chance of finding those trapped in time to save their lives. Because approximately 90% of people found within 15 minutes of being buried will be found alive, quick action is vital. To impress this upon you even further, only 25% of buried people are found alive after 45 minutes. (These figures apply to those trapped in snow only).

Snow shovels and avalanche probes are both incredibly important pieces of equipment, but it is even more important that you know how to use them. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you don’t need them, because you may live to regret it. Modelled on turn of the century entrenching tools, modern collapsible snow shovels are light-weight and compact. Your probe is a long collapsible pole, not unlike the white sticks used by the visually impaired but extending to a length of around 2 ½ metres. Probes make it easier to determine a person’s exact location beneath the snow to better inform rescue efforts, and are also useful for creating air-holes to help them breathe.

Simply having this equipment is not enough, you must make sure you know how to use it and have a pre-planned response in mind should an emergency occur. There are a number of other items at varying levels of technological ingenuity (and financial expense) that are certainly worth considering, but the top three must have items are those listed on this page. Another necessary tool (which can’t be kept in your back pack) is training. Taking VIP ski lessons will help you prepare for the challenges you might have to face off-piste. Where ever your ski holiday is in the Alps, from Avoriaz to Zermatt, expert ski instructors will be on hand to help you advance to the off-piste level.

Based in the Alps at Chatel Portes Du Soleil, White Blancmange specialises in creating the ultimate Alpine experiences for corporate customers, private groups, couples and individuals during the ski season and throughout the rest of the year. Find out more at

Monday, January 10, 2011

Equipment Review - Columbia's Omni-Heat Powder Bowl Parka

Columbia Sportswear recently asked me to field test its newest line of technology - the Omni-Heat "silver dot" jacket. At first, I was critical. This highly advertised line of skiwear had interrupted my viewings of House time after time during my Hulu commercial breaks. While popular among the masses, Columbia products have never been seen flying in the high circles of skiwear that include The North Face, Patagonia, and Arc'teryx. But after this heavy advertising, I was eager to get to the bottom of the rabbit hole and see if the new Omni-Heat would hold up to the hype. So I buttoned up in a new two-shell Powder Bowl Parka, decided on one of those spontaneous last minute holidays, and made my way to the peak at Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia ...

Visual Appeal

As a fashion-savvy ski professional, I was pleasantly surprised at the new school look to this old school brand. As you can see here, my jacket is best described as one that makes you hear whispers from the ski lift riders above (some sick skiing helps too). The in-your-face color and hip design tell others that you are seriously good-looking. At the same time, this jacket has a conservative enough look to not be seen as a young hipster and still be able to be worn among family and business ski trips. Better yet, the inside shell to the jacket is also a great fashion, consisting of a grey nearly-solid color that is great to wear in the warmer temperatures and out casually.


After I modeled at the fashion show in front of my mirror, it was time to hit the slopes and give the jacket its true test of character. The jacket provided a great deal of warmth in 20 degree Farenheit weather, and I was actually able to cut down one inner layer with this jacket. A well-designed hood helped keep my face out of the wind, and an adjustable waistline helped keep my warmth in my core. Unfortunately, it did provide some bulk, although it certainly was not movement restricting whatsoever. If you are looking for a shapely and cut jacket, this probably would not be your top choice, especially if you like to keep some extra materials in your jacket pockets. This jacket lived to the standard of all inner shell jackets - extra warmth with extra bulk. However, I was most impressed with its breathability. No matter where I was, it was almost impossible for me to get too hot with this jacket while skiing. As far as water-resistance, you cannot pick better. The rain drops from one day of skiing formed little sphere droplets on the sleeve and did not soak in at all (although this is to be expected of any modern ski jacket). I also do not know how it fares over time with regard to its water-resistance, as most jackets lose much water-resistance over time.


The high quality of materials is something that I was not expecting at all when I first put on the jacket. The outer zippers are all forged metal, meaning that there are no fabric straps attaching the zipper that easily come off, and all form waterproof seams. The outer fabric is a top-notch waterproof and tough layer that keeps rain at bay and does not tear easily. The usual 007 hidden James Bond pockets were all present, and a key clip was in the right hand outer pocket. The inner zippers that keep the two layers connected are easy to put together and take apart, and they are well-protected with softness on your chin during fully-zipped-to-the-top mode in cold temperatures. When I wore the jacket, I knew that real skiers designed this instead of foreign businessmen who have never even seen a mountain. It's the little things in this respect that make this jacket a keeper.


All things considered, the thing I love most about this jacket is its versatility due to the inner shell. I have always hated two-shell jackets because of the bulk and clumsiness that come along with them, but this jacket turned me 180 degrees the other way. The inner shell by itself might be my favorite part. It is a conservative color to wear out to hit the nightlife scene after a long day on the mountain, or just something to wear out around the city. This inner layer also contains the Omni-Heat technology (the Omni-Heat silver dots are present on the inside of both layers). While it mimics the puffy look of a Patagonia Down Sweater, it is remarkably lighter than it looks and is extremely warm. Further, the outer shell can be worn by itself as a rain jacket or as a more waterproof layer on a warmer day of skiing. Overall, the most versatile jacket I have ever had.

Overall Rating

Four and a half stars

  • Pros: versatile use, warmth, looks, materials, breathability

  • Cons: bulky