Continuing to ski hard while aging gracefully??

chris_the_wrench

Spinning wrenches and throwing spokes.
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Big Mountain Montana
Howdy all,

Looking for tips and advise. I'm 43 and I try to ski 100 days a year. I average to 'ski' 3.5 hours a day, if it's crowded and most weekends maybe 2 hours but if its puking around 5. I prefer to ski off piste fast and hard and usually do 80% of the time. I love the powder, who doesn't, but I have almost as much fun blasting the crud and bumps that follows. I usually only ski groomers to move me from one place on the hill to another, or if everything has gotten iced over in some kind of thaw/freeze combo.

I'm finding that at 40 my body started complaining to me abit more and every year its kinda louder. Ive broken 10-12 bones(skiing/cycling/skateboarding as a youth) and all those are coming back now and then as aches. But my biggest issue is my IT band tightness and the strain they put on my lower back, hips and down my leg to my knees. I stretch several times a day(everyday) and use a foam roller once or twice a day. Im usually able to stay ahead of the pains if I keep a strict routine of stretching and foam rolling. If Im traveling or somehow forget, I'm always paying the price for a couple days with tightness and soreness through my hips and back. Im also finding my body doesn't bounce back as quickly from a hard day. Sore and tired muscles seem more frequent....

During the off season( of skiing) I hike or ride pretty much everyday, but never do any 'strength training' or skiing specific prep work. My summers are filled with alot of farm/forest work, which is very physical itself. I maintain my IT band stretching and foam roller work. During the winter skiing is my only frequent exercise(nearly everyday). I snowshoe or hike maybe once or twice a ski month. I walk the dog everyday about a hilly-mile but then Im off to riding the lifts. During the winter I put on a couple extra pounds, but those usually come off in the spring on the bikes, but even then I still have a few lbs to spare but I love IPA's too much to really care. Im relatively healthy besides the IT bands and previous bone breaks. No medication except allergy pill and a dose of daily vitamins. I do take glucosamine(not sure it does anything). I tried yoga a couple times, and liked the activity but had a hard time with the yoga studio environment.

So long intro to my question, as you've gotten older what have you done to allow yourself to continue to ski as you want? Any tips for helping muscles recover quicker/better after a hard day?

Thanks
-Chris
 
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Dakine

Out on the slopes
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Tip of the Mitt
I'm 76.
Still skiing hard for a geezer.
The only ski specific training I do is on an incline leg press machine to peak up quad strength.
This year, without a gym, has been a challenge.
Walking up ski hills has proven good.
But by far the best way to get in shape for skiing is to ski.
Of course you need some aerobic capacity but bikes, xc etc are the RX for that.
Other than that, if you are in it for the long haul, avoid fast bump skiing.
It's all about your back at my age.
And ya, 43 is young but that's where you first become aware of the aging process.
Just don't quit!
 

crgildart

Gravity Slave
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The difference between 50 and 40 is way more staggering than the difference between 40 and 30 is. Keep active, keep exercising, but don't get discouraged if injuries happen easier and take longer to heal. Wait until you throw your back out just bending over to put on or take off your boot too quickly hahahaha!
 

Bad Bob

old n' slow
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Ya kid, you are old, said a guy who is about to turn 70.
As stated, listen to your body. If you have a body part that is FUBAR adjust for it, and live with what you can't change ( I have an abstem in left turns due to a right knee that went MIA a long time ago). You are at a prime age to start paying more attention to balance exercises.

With your issues, knees to back problems you speak of, wonder about your basic stance. Do you ski in a low stance?
 

mdf

entering the Big Couloir
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I'm only 64, so I'm not going to pile on. The guys here who are saying 43 isn't old (and I'm tempted to be one of them) are probably the lucky ones who have aged without too many cumulative problems. We stay in shape, realize healing takes forever at our age, stay lucky, and keep going.

Some of our brethren who might be younger but have lots of injuries might be a better source of advice.
 

DanoT

RVer-Skier
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I'm 72 and in winter reside 18kms from the mountain and thus I ski 4 or 5 days/ week (more if its snowing) and sometimes just go for 2 or 3 runs. I'm a lot pickier about snow conditions these days but fortunately am at a mountain known for its high quality snow pack as well as great fast cruising runs but I don't stay in the fast lane as much as I once did.

I did some toe touching and squats this past fall and ended up starting the season with a slightly strained abductor/quad muscle...all healed up now and back to skiing into shape by working up to top to bottom non stop runs.

The goal is to still be skiing 10 or 12 years from now.
 

Bad Bob

old n' slow
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I'm only 64, so I'm not going to pile on. The guys here who are saying 43 isn't old (and I'm tempted to be one of them) are probably the lucky ones who have aged without too many cumulative problems. We stay in shape, realize healing takes forever at our age, stay lucky, and keep going.

Some of our brethren who might be younger but have lots of injuries might be a better source of advice.
Probably like a lot of these old dogs, I have broken enough body parts to put the orthopods kid through collage. We don't even want to start down that run.
 

Paul Lutes

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Much wisdom above, plus a little friendly teasing for the newby geezer ogwink

Up until Covid, I was able to engage in a specifically skiing targeted workout program with supervision - recommend it highly, finances permitting. Never hesitate to dial it back as you age. As long as you continue to ski in some fashion, it's all good. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
 

Jerez

Making fresh tracks
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My DH is 77. He's had two back and one neck surgeries and deals with resulting neuropathy in one foot. He still skied the bumps with me yesterday.

Pre-COVID, he worked out at the gym 3 days a week and did Pilates 2 days a week. Now we do TV yoga a few times a week, interspersed with PSIA ski-ready exercises and two days of something aerobic. If not skiing then walking or biking.

Mostly, we ski the same terrain, just as hard. We just don't do it for as long.

One thing is that the better you get at skiing the less hard it is on you body. Learning to ski efficiently really helps. For example, after the back surgery, he had to ski bumps gently and that made him a much better mogul skier. Not that we zipperline or anything like that, but he now absorbs and is smoother than he used to be when he could still bang into them.
 

David Chaus

<insert clever custom title>
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How about reversing the title?

Continuing to ski gracefully while aging hard.

FWIW I was berating myself for getting tired skiing cut up heavy PNW crud. Then I remembered I’m 58. I shouldn’t really expect myself to ski as hard (and stupidly and inefficiently) as I did when I was younger.
 

chopchop

so many skis, so little time
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Two suggestions:

- Pilates (even just the mat exercises). Works all the little stuff that supports the big muscles and joints. Emphasis is on balancing muscles (a lot of back pain is due to certain muscle groups being out of balance).
- Hill sprints / intervals and/or mountain trail running with intermittent sprints (uphill and downhill). This is my personal favorite training regimen for legs, cardio, whole-body, and mind; it works so many of the same muscles and joints and engages the senses and mind (especially downhill) in ways relevant to ski training.
 

scott43

Skiing the powder
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I started breaking down at 40ish. I think the keys are, maintain flexibility, keep weight down, focus on balanced muscle groups. And you just have to accept you can't do stuff you used to do. My knees just can't take big impacts anymore. I can put a lot of pressure on them when carving, but I can't drop even medium jumps anymore. I was goofing and did an inside foot only hockey stop and got some chatter from some hard-pack/ice and it nearly made my knee buckle. Part of that is just me not doing enough maintenance on my knees with proper stretching and weights. But it's also just plain old age. I remember dropping off a second storey balcony when I was 20..long storey..I couldn't even imagine doing that now. My knees would be in the woods with Bad Bob's..
 

SSSdave

life is short precious ...don't waste it
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Obviously genetics is a significant factor in aging rates and my experience is too unusual for use as an example. I'm nearly 3 decades older and though parts of my body have aged like other people, most of my body has aged unusually slowly maybe due to long teleomeres. Use it or lose it becomes more important. I'm an old backpacker that carries ridiculously heavy weight though keep distances modest. Also have fast reactions have regularly exercised. Things like walking a mile at max speed or hiking cross country at high speed.

Permanent neuromusculoskelectal structure via neural plasticity develops through ones life that needs at least occasional activity to be usable lest it degenerate. That was why on my first day skiing this winter on my third run, first bump run, I was able to non-stop ski an 800 foot vertical fall line like I'd been doing it all week. In other words, due to repitition over decades it is permanent.

Have tended to have slack days between activity so not one active daily, especially before retiring due to demanding mental workweek with little physical efforts between very active weekends. Also lazy about long term regular exercise. Try to not overstress muscles being sensitive to stopping whatever at microtear levels. An attitude of continuing to ski hard may be a formula for an early retirement to the rocking chair.

In your case, you may be wearing down your body due to regularly going beyond microtear levels that accumulates modified repair tissue structure over years that has been no chance of working as well as when you were young.
 
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