Why is Skiing So Tiring? & How to Recover Quickly

by Simon Naylor | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

Skiing is an exciting and challenging sport both for your body and your mind. Many people find that by the late afternoon, their bodies start to give out. They start skiing with less control and grace than they did at the start of the day. When they finally make it down the last run, they're exhausted. Perhaps you've experienced this. You barely have enough energy to shower, eat dinner, and fall into bed. The next day isn't much better. Suddenly you've discovered muscles that you forgot about over the summer, and simple daily tasks become grueling.

What is it that makes skiing so tiring? Your entire body is engaged in skiing. A combination of muscle fatigue and burning a high amount of calories leaves you feeling fatigued and sore at the end of the day. You can recover quickly by training your body beforehand and by staying hydrated. 

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A long hard day ski touring through the mountains

Why Our Bodies Tire Out When We Ski

Skiing is not just fun recreation. It is also an excellent workout for your core and lower half of your body. The main muscles affected by skiing include:

  1. Core abdominal muscles: These help you control and stabilize your movements.
  2. Gluteus Maximus: The muscles that run through your buttocks and thigh. They support your leg movements.
  3. Quadriceps: Extend the knee and flex the hip and hamstrings. These enable you to flex your knee up and down.

The main reason that downhill skiing is so tiring is that it engages your entire body. It requires a full-body motion that can be rather intense at times. The steeper the hill, the more muscles needed to fight the gravity, and the more tired you will feel after the workout.

Because of this intense workout of so many muscles, you burn many calories. Downhill skiing can burn anywhere from 300 to 500 calories an hour, depending on the difficulty level of the run and your current body weight.

How to Diminish the Physical Strain

If you don't want to feel overly exhausted after a day on the slopes, the best thing that you can do is train ahead of time. Focus on exercising the muscle groups mentioned above throughout the year. Don't wait until the day before to engage these muscles.

If you find that your muscles tend to quickly tire out or even leave you with that dreaded burning feeling, it's because your body isn't accustomed to this level of workout. It's better to improve your cardiovascular health and strength before you get on the lift.  

Exercises to diminish the physical strain of skiing:

  1. Squats – Try adding weights for an extra challenge or include jumping squats into your routine.
  2. Lunges – Alternate from one side to the other. You can even jump up and switch legs in the air for a more intense workout.
  3. Russian Twists – Hold a dumbbell, weighted plate, or medicine ball. With your knees bent, hold your body in a sit-up position and rotate your upper body to the left, then right touching the ground with the weight each time.
  4. Planks – Add variety to your planks. You can start on your elbows, then straighten your arms and return to your elbows to engage even more core muscles.
  5. Lateral Hops – Jump laterally over a rolled-up mat or similar sized object. Keep a wide stance and jump softly and quickly. Sink into a squat position, hold, and repeat.

These exercises focus on the main muscle groups you will be using when you're skiing.

How to Sustain Your Energy Throughout the Day

We burn a lot of energy when we're skiing. Therefore we must replace the calories that we are burning so that we don't tire out.

ski energy
Pack a backpack with calorie-dense snacks to give you energy on the go.

Calorie rich nutrients will do wonders for your energy levels. Even if you're in a rush to get on the hill, take time to eat a nutritious breakfast. Skip the sugary cereal and opt for a high protein breakfast of tofu, whole-grain toast, and even mushrooms.

Once you are on the hill, you will continuously be burning energy, so you need to be refueling continually. Don't wait until lunchtime to eat again.

Chow down on some of these calorie-dense snacks:

  • Trail mix
  • Fruit or fruit leather
  • Energy balls. You can find an easy recipe for these delicious, nutrient-packed treats here.

Tip: ski with a backpack with snacks and water.

Don't forget the importance of hydration. Our bodies are made up of nearly 60% of water. So it makes sense that if we aren't consuming enough water, then our bodies will not function as well as they should.

Avoid sugary, fizzy drinks, or alcoholic drinks that tend to dehydrate the body, leaving you feeling sluggish and can lead to dehydration headaches and muscle cramps.

What to Do to Recover Fully for the Next Day On the Slopes

No matter how well you prepare or how seasoned of an athlete you are, you will feel some physical fatigue. What can you do to recover fully overnight so you can enjoy the next day of skiing?

  1. Stretch it out. Stretching out your tight muscles will help them recover quicker because the tension is released, and the muscles can return to their original positions.
Stretch before and after skiing for better recovery, flexibility and to reduce the risk of injury

Stretching also helps because it increases blood flow to your muscles. Your muscles can then recover and repair themselves more effectively.

Your leg muscles, lower back, and glutes will especially appreciate a good stretch.

2.   Take a hot shower or bath. If you have a jacuzzi tub or hot tub with jets, the results will be even better. Warming up your muscles and massaging them will increase circulation and allows oxygen to reach your muscles.

You will feel the pain melt away, and your relaxed muscles will also improve your night's sleep so you will feel fully recovered for the next day.

3.   Hydrate. Rehydrating in the evening is as equally crucial as staying hydrating throughout the day. Not only will your muscles recover more quickly, but your body will be able to digest food and extract nutrients better when you are hydrated.

Skiing is as exhilarating as it is relaxing. Don't let the inconveniences of fatigue and muscle pain distract you from the enjoyable experience that skiing is meant to be.