We’ve all been there. Sore. So sore. Whether you’ve been shredding the powder, bumping your way down the moguls or ripping down groomers, sore legs are often a given for skiers and snowboarders alike. As an Olympic athlete, despite being in optimal shape I was not immune to the sore legs. So, what gives? Why the soreness? Here’s a quick crash course in physiology.

As with any aerobic or anaerobic sport, your body needs fuel to give you energy. When doing strenuous activities, your muscles use quick energy that is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Your muscles can draw upon this quickly as needed. As your body is creating ATP to continue to fuel your muscles a byproduct is made which is called lactate. As your body creates more ATP for fuel, lactate can build up in your bloodstream faster than you are able to metabolize it. This is what is called lactic acid. The combination of lactic acid & strenuous activity leaves you with sore muscles. Ouch!

So what to do? The more trained you are in your specific activity, the less likely you are to develop sore muscles due to straining. Additionally, your body actually builds up a tolerance and becomes more efficient. But in all truth, the burn still exists. A key in easing your sore muscles is recovery. Whether your an elite athlete or just taking a Sunday cruise down Tomahawk, allowing your muscles to recover following a day on the slopes is crucial. Here are some easy ways to ease the pain.

Hot/Cold Contrast:
If you’ve watched any pro sports, you’ve probably seen an athlete submerged in a tub of ice water. If you can’t find a giant ice tub, hot/cold contrast works just as well. A few ideas are to turn the shower on hot water for 30 seconds and then super cold water for 30 seconds. Repeat this 6 times. Or my favorite option is to get into the Strawberry Park Hot Springs and couple this with a quick dunk in the river. Repeat this 6 times.

Spin/Walk It Out:
After spending all day out on the slopes, you often just want to cuddle up on the couch and relax. But before you hit the couch, think about a quick spin on a stationary bike or a relaxing walk around the neighborhood. Doing this activity acts as a flush to your bloodstream and muscles and allows your body to clear out any lingering lactic acid. Don’t stress! 30 minutes is plenty to make your legs fresh and new for tomorrow.

Who needs an excuse for a massage? Not me! Believe it or not, a gentle form of massage called effleurage is a ideal way to improve circulation and activate the body’s ability to metabolize any excess lactic acid. This technique is often used in most massage practices and can be requested for added benefits.

Hope these tips help you on and off the slopes.
Here’s to recovery and happy legs!