Doctor George’s Medical Info-Spot: Overuse Prevention

“I always have sore hips and my back bugs me especially when I am riding pack. I never got into it very much at the beginning because with some rest it went away. Now it bothers me quite often. Even with stretching, it the pain won’t go away.”-Michi Albin

Little is known about the long-term effects of excessive riding throughout the season. But even without having a real accident you can still harm your body. Most riders are not well prepared to start the season, and even adept riders with a lot of snowboarding experience suffer from an overuse syndrome because specific training to prepare for the season was not performed. Sometimes it takes very little training to avoid damage to your body. An overuse syndrome can lead to chronic inflammation of tendons or to damage of the joint surface, and in the worse case, to destruction of that joint surface in the future.

Muscular overuse can start very early when beginners, due to their inexperienced position on the board, try to keep balance while riding. Particular strains, especially to your back, hips, and legs, can occur in the snowboarding-specific movement patterns, causing a misbalance of the muscular system. Most pros and snowboard instructors report hip and back pain and experience asymmetric muscular adaptation (how your muscle gains or shrinks to your needs). This can especially be seen in the muscle of the rider’s front leg. Even riding switch-stance can’t really help you avoid this development. A bigger angle in binding position might help because it allows for more equal torque induction to both legs. A lot of people ride zero degree angles in both bindings. To lower the risk of having knee and hip problems, riders should use angles like five to ten degrees (back foot) and twenty to 30 degrees (front foot).

The best way to avoid an overuse syndrome is to keep your muscular system in good shape by specific muscle training before the season starts. Good coordination and a well-balanced muscular system is the key for a long season of enjoyable riding, and it’s the main key to preventing injuries by improving your counter reaction speed. Training is the best injury prevention. In addition to exercising you can also increase your performance level by improving the reaction time of the knee and ankle joint, improving inter muscular coordination, strength and speed.

The following exercises are examples of a short and simple program that have helped Michi train.

Dos and Don’ts

1). Start with ten minutes of warm-up, like jogging or using a treadmill.

2). Training should never be excessive. At the beginning, start with a low repetition rate, two to four repetitions, two to three cycles, with a four-minute break.

3). Do the exercises correctly, otherwise the effect can be opposite.

4). Never forget to stretch the muscles you used after the exercise.

The following two exercises will help to stabilize your hip and thigh muscles, will also help to develop your abdominal and back muscles, and prevent a sore back.

A). Lie on your side, aligning your body in a straight line.

Lift your body off the floor, supporting your weight on your elbow. Support your lower back and balance by placing your other hand on your back. Your weight should be distributed evenly between your bent elbow and your lower leg and foot.

Lift your upper leg toward the ceiling, straight up, about six to twelve inches.

Repeat for each side.

B). Lie flat on your stomach, aligning your body in a straight line.

Lift your body up into a half push-up position, by supporting your weight on bent elbows and the balls of your feet.

One leg at a time, lift your leg straight up two to four inches.

Repeat for each side.

Practice doing standing frontside 180s and backside 180s concentrating on good lower body position, keeping your feet about sixteen to twenty inches apart and parallel. Keep your knees flexed to about 90 degrees, centtering your weight as you jump and turn. This exercise works with speed to develop the explosive power in your legs and to increase your body coordination.