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Jan. 26, 2022, 12:07 p.m. EST

Is it safe to ski after 50? Here are some tips from trainers so you can keep hitting the slopes well into old age

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By Rashelle Brown

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“I’ve never been injured as the result of skiing,” said Bogenreif. Casper agreed, with one caveat: “Maybe just a tweak or some sore muscles when I’ve gone out and done too much.”

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Rogers said that’s fairly common. “Injuries happen when there’s too much, too soon, usually at the beginning of the season.” With XC skiers, she said, “We see a lot of tendon overuse injuries in the lower leg, and maybe an occasional strain in the lower back.”

Downhill skiers are also prone to overuse injuries, primarily in the knees, hips and lower back. She said that the best way to prevent these types of injuries — for both groups — is to make sure your body is ready to absorb the load you place on it. That means doing shorter XC outings and sticking to gentler downhill runs early in the season.

Another key to staying safe and injury-free is skiing terrain your body can handle. Downing said that the WMA has different courses for different age brackets: The skiers in their 80s and 90s aren’t doing the same distance and grades as those in their 30s or 40s.

He’s also mindful of this in his own skiing. “For me, right about age 50, that was kind of the dividing line. I would say, maybe not act your age, but take appropriate levels of caution.”

He noted that as we age, we don’t tolerate extreme cold as well as when we were younger, so it’s also important to pay attention to the weather. Downing added: “Not that you’re not going to still do the big things, but you need to prepare for that. Think about safety equipment and have a buddy along.”

Also see: Can you run after age 50? These coaches and runners and a physical therapist say you can and should. Here’s how to do it safely.

Training tips for 50+ skiers

When asked how skiers can prepare their bodies for the season, Rogers recommended strength training.

“There’s a misconception among masters skiers,” she said. “We tend to decrease our lifting weights, hoping to be more careful in our workouts, but we should be doing the opposite. We have to be able to maintain our muscle mass in order to prevent injuries. My advice is, get back to the gym and lift heavier weights.”

For Casper and Bogenreif, year-round strength training is just one part of their very active lives. In the summer they pole hike (in which you use trekking poles while hiking) paddle and run, and Casper says she regularly works on flexibility and mobility as well.

“These days, when I’m not stretching and maintaining flexibility, I can really feel myself tightening up,” says Casper.

Bogenreif, who coaches the Champlin Park High School XC team in Champlin, Minn., does a lot of core strengthening, adding: “For good skiing or good anything, the core is the key factor.”

Casper agreed, and noted, “In the winter, though, there’s nothing like specificity of training. That means more skiing!”

To help with that, she recommends keeping an old pair of unwaxed skis on hand for bushwhacking through the trees and skate-skiing (a type of XC skiing where you make a skating motion versus moving in a straight line) on crusty, icy snow.

Read next: ‘You’ve got to make a whole-body investment into your health’—how to keep cycling into your 50s, 60s and 70s

The pair’s best piece of advice, though, was to find a skiing buddy and keep getting out there. “We don’t get together for coffee,” Bogenreif said. “Meeting indoors is pretty uncommon for us.”

Rashelle Brown is a longtime fitness professional and freelance writer with hundreds of bylines in print and online. She is a regular contributor for NextAvenue and the Active Network, and is the author of “Reboot Your Body: Unlocking the Genetic Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss” (Turner Publishing). Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @RashelleBrownMN. 

This article is reprinted by permission from  , © 2022 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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