Between your endless to-do list and constantly pinging smartphone, it might feel nearly impossible to find time for a little self-love. But when you’re ripping it on the hill, taking just a few minutes to pamper yourself is so worth it.
The Perfect Ski Warm-Up
Even if the flakes are flying, carve out a moment to pamper your body and feed your soul before throwing on your layers and buckling your boots. Kick off your warm-up with Bhastrika (also called bellows breath or breath of fire), a traditional yoga breathing exercise. It’s basically the Zen version of espresso, leaving you super energized so you’ll be razor-sharp on the slopes. “Bellows breath clears your head, get your blood pumping, and moves stagnant air out of your lungs out to let fresh air in,” says Jennifer Findley, lead esthetician and massage therapist at the Spa at Spruce Peak. It also generates inner heat to ward off frozen toes and fingers.
Stand up straight, inhale deeply, and raise your arms. Blow out forcefully through your nose on the exhale while pulling your navel in toward your spine and bringing your arms swiftly down so that that they’re close to your body with your elbows flexed and fists at shoulder height. Repeat 10 times.
Now, lie on your back, pull your knees up to your chest, and roll them side to side for a gentle core twist. At the same time, do a quick body scan—a mental tour of how each body part is feeling that day, from head to toe. “Mindful stretching helps you stay fully present so you’ll experience maximum enjoyment, whatever you’re doing,” says Lisa Hagerty, owner of The Yoga Barn in Stowe. In other words, skiing will be extra blissful if you’re truly in the moment, feeling the wind on your cheeks and taking in the stunning scenery—instead of thinking about what you’ll make for dinner later or whether or not you remembered to text the dog walker. “It gets your brain in sync with your body, which is important because you’re more likely to get injured when your mind and body are in two different places,” Hagerty adds.
A warm-up also lessens the chance of injury because it prepares you physically for the sport ahead. “You’ve already moved through the range of motions that you’re
going to put your body through,” says Rebecca Rahilly, fitness supervisor at the Spa at Spruce Peak. To target the key joints you activate when skiing, do shoulder and
hip circles (aim for about 30 seconds in each direction), followed by the cat-cow yoga move (rounding and arching your back while on all fours—it’s incredible for
Since skiing involves so much legwork, focus on your lower half next. “Squats mimic the ski or snowboarding position and raise your core temperature,” Rahilly says.
Do 10-20 of them, followed by chair pose: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and bring your weight into your heels as you lift your arms overhead. Hold for five or six breaths.
Then, bend into a low lunge, loosening up your thighs before that first run. Do five forward lunges on each leg, and then five reverse lunges. “Finally, stretch your
calves for about 20-30 seconds per side, since you’ll be locked into ski or snowboard boots,” Rahilly says.
You can continue warming up in the lift line; Rahilly points out that your poles can be a terrific tool to enhance stretching. Raise your poles overhead, holding them by their ends so that they’re parallel to the ground. Next, pull your arms slightly behind your head to open up your shoulders. Or, plant your poles in front of you and bend forward at the waist to elongate your legs and hips while you wait for the chairlift.
The UltimatE Winter Wind-Down
After hours on the slopes, you probably want to lounge with a cozy cashmere wrap and glass of vin chaud in front of the fireplace. But first, give yourself a chance to
recover—your body will thank you.
A low-key athletic activity helps your body recuperate before getting your après on. “Lactic acid can build up in your muscles and make them sore after skiing,” Rahilly says. Flush it out by drinking water—and then going for a short walk or hopping on the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical machine for just a few minutes. “It might make the difference of being able to ski the following day or not,” Rahilly says.
Heat will also help you bounce back. “It enhances circulation, which improves muscle recovery,” Findley says. Relax in the sauna, steam room, or hot tub—or simply fill up your bath at home and add a scoop of Epsom salts to the water; the magnesium in the salts will rejuvenate depleted muscles.
Next, rest for at least one minute in child’s pose—this position gently stretches your back and quads, and allows your lungs to exhale and, increasing the flow of oxygen throughout your body. Then, reach your legs 90-degrees up the wall, with your arms and upper body flat on the floor. This releases tension in your hamstrings and lower back, while boosting circulation.
Finish up the same way you started: Laying on your back with your knees to your chest, breathing deeply, and mindfully scanning your body from top to bottom. Tapping into how you’re feeling will guide you to decide whether you should push hard or take it easy tomorrow.
From the Slopes to the Spa
If you want someone else to take the legwork out of your post-ski recovery routine, head to The Spa at Spruce Peak for one of these soothing treatments.
Step out of your ski boots and treat your feet! Bonus: This pedi (for men and women) includes an invigorating lower leg massage.
APRÈS-SKI MASSAGE WITH ARNICA
This therapeutic rubdown leverages the powers of arnica, an alpine plant that is used homeopathically and has been shown to reduce bruising and inflammation.
CRYOTHERAPY FOR SKI LEGS
Cryotherapy incorporates cycles of warmth and cold to stimulate circulation, reduce inflammation, and facilitate muscle healing.
A practitioner will flex and stretch your body on a yoga mat, applying compression to relieve tired muscles.