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Preparation Exercises (& Massage) for Skiing & Snowboarding

First day snowboarding in Chamonix this season reminded me of how much more I could have done to strengthen my major muscles involved in keeping me upright, flexible and capable of absorbing impact of the terrain as we tore round Grands Montets – the first of the Chamonix Valley lift stations to open for 2010/11. Phew – I felt the burn!

Start Your Yoga / Circuits / Strength Training  / Massage Routine Now!

It’s never too late and it’s undeniably beneficial to really focus at least three hours a week towards muscle conditioning and strength training so that your skiing and snowboarding becomes even more fun and without the painful side effects of screaming quadriceps, taught IT bands and aching lower back/ glutes. Throw a weekly or fortnightly massage into the mix and you’ll feel more flexible and stronger for all your winter action sports. (And will reduce your likelihood of accident or injury).

Advance Preparation Exercises for your Ski / Snowboarding Trip

If you are booking a ski trip, then it’s totally worth starting a ski/snowboarding fitness preparation programme at least 8 weeks prior to your holiday – primarily focus on muscular strength and endurance, but keep flexible and nicely stretched. Imagine the feeling of strong legs, stable core muscles and loads of stamina so you are making the most of every moment of your investment into snowy adventures. With the added flexibility in your joints and fascia – this training will keep you a lot less prone to needless injury. Aerobic training will minimize fatigue and hence will minimize your chances of crashing. Most injuries occur in the afternoon of the first two days of a ski holiday – due to fatigue, lack of concentration, lack of strength to avoid falls. Bear this in mind and begin your “ski trip” well in advance with the following training advice (or something similar).

Which Muscles do we Use for Skiing and Snowboarding?

The most important muscles for skiers and snowboarders to strengthen and stretch regularly include:

The butt! – gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, piriformis

The hips – psoas, hip flexors

The legs: hamstrings, quadriceps,  IT band, calves

Lower back & abdominals: Quadratus Lumborum, obliques, lower abdominals

Upper back, shoulders & chest: Trapezius, rotator cuffs, pectoralis muscles

Sounds complex, but it’s simply a case of getting your body functioning properly as a whole. There’s no point in having a strong set of quads (upper front leg muscles) if your glutes (butt muscles) aren’t functioning properly or if core stability is poor. While certain muscles will become more pronounced as used predominantly – don’t neglect the other muscles.

A full body stretch and strengthening programme should include: yoga, tai chi or pilates, running or hiking, swimming (mixed strokes), weight and circuit training… or at least some of these every week.

Flexibility and Stretching for Skiers and Snowboarders

Even if you stick to an hour’s yoga each week and/or ten mins yoga a few times a week, you will feel the difference! Chamonix Valley has some awesome yoga instructors who do regular classes. Email ChamoFix for more information about Chamonix’s best yoga classes.

Or at the very least, follow simple stretching warm-up routines as offered by The Chamonix Clinic – home of Chamonix’ favourite sports physiotherapist.

Weight and Strength Training for Skiing / Snowboarding

It’s ideal if you can fit in some sort of strength training routine at least twice a week, allowing a rest of 2 days between sessions.

While a free weight circuit, done properly and regularly, can work wonders, you don’t need machinary to build muscle strength – try working with the weight of your own body! It doesn’t take long to do a full circuit of body weight exercises – but make sure you do each exercise steadily and mindfully – paying attention to quality before quantity.

Swiss Ball Core Strength Training

A Swiss Ball actually has more functionality than filling a corner of your living room. Try to use your swiss ball regularly – even if you start off with the core stability of a sack of potatoes.  After a few weeks of steadily following a short routine of swiss ball core stability exercises, your core strength will improve – then voila! … your balance and stability on the mountain will become so much easier. (Regardless of whether you are a semi-pro free-ride ripping skier or a first-timer at this sport of sliding on snow.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise such as swimming, running, biking, spin-biking, or rowing will all help to improve your cardiovascular fitness  – ie get your heart pumping blood and oxygen around the body more effectively during exercise. This lessens fatigue, allows the muscles to stay more supple (and with less lactic acid) and in turn reduces your risk of injury. If you are fit, you will enjoy what you are doing more on your ski/boarding trip and you can focus on ski technique/ learning new tricks / etc!

Interval training is an ideal form of exercise as most resembles the way you exercise your muscles on the ski trip itself – 3 – 10 minutes intensive leg and core body workout as you slide/ride down the slopes followed by a five minute break taking the chairlift back up. Circuits make a great all-round interval training workout. Plyometric circuits involve explosive sets of fast exercises to make your fast-twitch muscle fibres start firing more effectively – very useful for more experienced skiers and snowboarders.

For a more general intro to getting ski fit, try something like the following circuit – to aerobically workout all the muscle groups (with a bit of strength work thrown in).

Ski & Snowboarding Fitness Circuit:

30 – 45 seconds light jog / run, followed by 8 -15 of each exercise

Stay steady and thoughtful about each exercise and about your posture while you run. After each 45second run, do just the leg circuit, then just the upper body, then just the abdominals – with a run in between each set of reps, if that makes sense?

Leg Circuits – e.g.
1. Two footed squat thrusts – aim for a 12 inch jump
2. Walking lunge forward – changing lead leg
3. Alternate leg squat thrusts – count reps on 1 leg only.

Upper Body Circuits – e.g.
1. Wide arm press-up – take elbows out to your sides.
2. Normal press ups – aim to keep a straight line through your back.
3. Close Hand – aim to keep your thumbs touching each other.

Abdominal Circuit – e.g.
1. Normal crunchies – keep your chin off your chest; imagine your belly button is being pulled to the ground
2. Alternate elbows to knees – count reps on one side only
3. Alternate hand to foot – count reps one side only

If you are new to getting fit (or coming back to it after a few weeks/months/years) – ensure you take a rest between each different exercise. Your length of rest time will reduce as you get fitter. Aim to build up your running time to one minute, between  2 sets of each exercise. Once these exercises cease to pose a challenge… phase in some harder ones, or at least increase the reps of the current ones.

Do it! Do it now! … But don’t Overdo it!

The fitter, stronger and more flexible you are, the more enjoyable your skiing and snowboarding and the longer you can last on the slopes. Simple!

Even if you are doing just 15 minutes each morning – eg a yoga Salute to the Sun and a short strength or CV warmup workout, you’ll feel the benefits and you’ll feel pleased with yourself.

Remember to give your body sufficient recovery time between each bout of exercise – and recovery doesn’t just mean plonking yourself back at the desk or onto the sofa. Active recovery involves gentle stretches/ yoga relaxation poses/ walking, etc.

Remember to be mindful of how you use your body. Each exercise, workout and sports session should involve at least some focus on posture and best practice – rather than simply speed and quantity.

Don’t launch yourself into an exercise routine if you are not very fit at all – seek out professional advice and work with the face-to-face advice doctor, physiotherapist or personal trainer, if possible. Keep it enjoyable. Don’t push through pain. And, if you feel faint or ill in any way, stop immediately.

A great summary of this massive subject with loads more titbits for skiers and snowboarders interested in the right training can be found here – on the Peak Performance website. Or try this other great resource for skier and boarder workouts!

Benefits of Massage after Snowsports

And… one more thing… it would be wrong of me not to mention the importance of massage in the whole scheme of keeping your body healthy for your winter sports.

Massage after skiing or snowboarding is beneficial both physiologically and psychologically. Your legs and body can feel totally fresh the next day, because massage increases microcirculation of blood and lymph, helping to clear metabolic waste such as lactic acid. Massage also helps to reduce “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS) for various reasons such as:

–    Increase in endorphins and seratonin and decrease in stress hormones
–    Improved sleep patterns for body repair
–    Break up of adhesions from micro-traumas in the muscles
–    Improved circulation and removal of waste products
–    Reduces “soreness” by activating pressure instead of pain receptors

To book your massage in Chamonix and feel amazing again after your winter activities, email ChamoFix or call us on +33 609 868 838.

ChamoFix uses the gorgeously pure Tui Massage Balmes for the ultimate massage fix.

(Locals in Chamonix (with Gens de Pays cards or Seasonaire jobs) can benefit from a multipack of three massages at a great rate, so you can really plot your progress as you train and enjoy your skiing and snowboarding… not to mention telemarking.)


New Thai Massage Weekend Course in Chamonix

While ChamoFix Massage has been busy investing in more Hot Stones massage and thermal energy training with LaStone in the UK, Dani from Yoga Groove has encouraged us to run a second Thai Massage Weekend Course in Chamonix Mont Blanc, this time 27th – 29th November.

Report on the First Thai Massage Training Weekend

The first weekend of Thai Massage training, back in the summer, was a huge success, with eight of us immersed in the world of positive energy, gentle stretching and bending and working with breath. We learnt a routine that could be broken down into elements that addressed each part of the body. I now find myself incorporating the Thai foot massage into all my massage routines. Working on the foot with Thai Yoga Massage techniques affects the whole body. You can literally see the gentle foot stretch working all the way up through the pelvis.

The Forthcoming Thai Massage Course in Chamonix

This second Thai Massage course, taking place Friday 27th, Sat 28th and Sun 29th November 2010, will continue from our learning on the first eighteen hour’s training. But it will also be effective as a standalone weekend of training – so no previous experience is necessary.

18 hours:  Thai Yoga Massage – level 1  – Tutor Dani from Yoga Groove

Cost: 220e per person

* Dani’s “Learning Thai Massage” is an continuation of the earlier Chamonix-Massage-Training introduction to this 2500 year old ancient art form. We will continue to explore the essential techniques of Thai Massage.

* After the weekend (18hours of study) it will be possible to offer a complete one hour massage, with enhanced techniques  following the first course.

* We will continue to work with the thai meridians of the legs, the arms and the back and stomach

* We will develop the stretching techniques inspired by yoga

* We will revisit the thai massage of the feet and hands.

*  We will discover more about the therapeutic benefits of Thai Massage to the head and shoulders.

* The massage is given to fully clothed clients.

* Maximum of 8 students on the course

Dates and times:
Friday 27th November 2010: 1800 – 2130h
Saturday 28th November 2010: 0900-1230h and 1330-1830h
Sunday 29th November 2010: 0930-1530h

What to bring:
* Yoga mat
* A packed lunch… Or a contribution to a picnic lunch that we all share
* Two pillows / cushions
* “An open mind and the desire to learn”

What is provided:
* 18hrs’ Thai Massage tuition in the Chamonix venue
* Herbal teas and light refreshments

Email ChamoFix Massage for more information and to book a place on the November Thai Massage Course in Chamonix.


Fitness, Altitude and Massage in Chamonix

After the intensity of three different massage training courses (sports massage, pregnancy massage and thai massage), it’s now time to write up my case studies, progress my project about the effects of massage in pregnancy and enjoy the practising of our Thai Massage training with other like-minded massage therapists in Chamonix. BUT I also need to focus on something less task-oriented.

It’s so easy to get swept up with work duties and deadlines and hence jeopardize the personal promises to reach marathon fitness, to use my Chamonix lift pass more often and to enjoy the sports that enticed me to live here. So this month is all about the great outdoors… and being disciplined enough to cap my working hours so that I can fulfill that work-life balance that so often sways towards my desk. While I’m at my desk, I’m taking care with my posture, keeping my head from tilting forward into the screen, occasionally doing some “glute clenches” and taking a regular few moments to gaze down the valley from Argentiere to the Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc Massif. Our Thai Massage course with Dani from Yoga Groove really reinforced all that we’ve been taught about good posture for giving a massage. In Thai Massage philosophy, the practitioner should also be benefiting from the massage by adopting energy giving poses and a calm mind. And my Chamonix massage clients are feeling the difference from the subtle changes I’ve been making…focusing on better, deeper massage techniques that rely less on strength but more on body weight and perfect posture. The more comfortable the masseuse feels, the more in tune with the client she is.

I’ve been aware of this from the start, but it’s lovely to relearn the experience through a different massage technique and philosophy. “Physician – Heal Thyself!” is an ancient wisdom. So less nagging my massage clients in Chamonix to drink more water and do more yoga… I’m now refocusing my own energies on better postures while I massage, a slightly longer daily yoga routine (EVEN if I have an urgent email, etc), keeping hydrated, taking time to enjoy healthy meals, and using my Chamonix lift pass for high altitude runs and bike rides.

First stop, a wee cafe up the Aiguille du Midi to write up those wonderful pregnancy massage case studies at altitude.

As a vote of good karma to fellow mountain runners who are embarking on the Chamonix 10Km, Chamonix Cross du Mont Blanc (23Km) or the Chamonix Marathon Du Mont Blanc (42km) on the weekend of 26/27th June, you’ll get free 20mins with any ChamoFix massage of 30mins or more if you show me your race bib or medal!


Thai Massage Teacher Daniel Anner

The Chamonix Thai Massage course is led by Daniel Anner, who also teaches Yoga and Acro Yoga in Geneva, and studies these practices all over the world. Here’s Daniel Anner’s story of the Thai massage he teaches, straight from the horse’s mouth:

About Daniel Anner & his Thai Massage Teaching

“In 2002, I was initiated to yoga in San Francisco, California, while studying psychology and International Relations, and learned many different yoga approaches since. In 2005 I started to teach yoga in Geneva, at the United Nations, WTO and World Economic Forum, as well as private classes and other environments.

Thai massage came naturally into my life, as a yoga teacher exposed to different therapies I discovered this beautiful practice 3 years ago while training as a teacher in AcroYoga. As Thai massage is very diverse, and has stretches similar to yoga postures, it has become a perfect add on for my work and personal practice.
Since Thai massage has found me I have trained and studied intensively, and started to offer Thai massage weekend courses in Geneva in 2009.
I often use yoga and/or Thai massage for my students and clients, depending on the therapeutic need at that time.
Thai massage is one of the most ancient form of bodywork, around 2500 years old and created by Shivago Komarpaj, also influenced from Indian, Chinese, Southern Asian traditional medicine. Dr Shivago Komarpaj was the physician, doctor and personal friend of the Buddha; he is known as the father of Indian and Thai medicine.
Only 30 years ago and thousands of years before, Thai massage was only to be found in temples, as a Buddhist and meditative practice, a spiritual exchange to self heal and help others heal.
As we are in a strong time for change and transitions, this massage and many other ancient therapies have become more easily accessible. I personally believe this is no coincidence: now is a time to heal ourselves and become more conscious of our behaviors and ways of living.

Yoga, Thai massage and related therapies are the natural cure for modern day diseases: stress, tension, depression, migraine…
Yoga and Thai massage  are the easiest, most natural and accessible form of therapies and best prevention; once learned they can be used as a personal tool for survival of daily life.  The newer version of massage in the west are directly based from Thai and Ayurvedic massages, but often misses the energetic element of wise bodywork, focuses on muscles and the mechanical aspect of the body, omitting the mind and soul.

Many teachers inspire me: the present ones are part of the sunshine network created by Asokananda, who first translated the Thai massage knowledge into English language 20 years ago.  My main teachers are part of the Thai Massage Circus and Osteothai schools.

It is a privilege to offer this ancient massage and to teach this art to people.”

Dani’s yoga, acro yoga and Thai massage practice: www.yogagroove.ch
Dani trains and practises with www.thaimassagecircus.com and www.osteothai.com

Readings for Chamonix Thai Massage Course

Art of Traditional Thai Massage by Asokananda
Le massage Thaï by Arnaud L’Hermitte (Auteur), Stéphane Koniecpol
Light on Yoga by  BKS Iyengar
Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar

About the Thai Massage Course in Chamonix

Date and times: Friday 11th June: 1830 – 2200h; Saturday 12th June: 0900-1230h and 1400-1900h; Sunday 13th June: 1000-1600h

Venue: Insted Language School in Chamonix

Price: 220e

What to bring: yoga mat, blanket, cushion or pillow, packed lunch or a dish to share, an open mind

What to wear: loose clothing that you’d use for yoga

Look forward to seeing you at our first Thai Massage training in Chamonix Mont Blanc!


Thai Yoga Massage Course in Chamonix


There are 6 places available on Chamonix Massage Training’s weekend Thai Massage Course held in Chamonix Centre – at INSTED french language school. The Thai Yoga Massage Course will be led by Dani, a highly respected teacher who runs a renowned yoga school in Geneva. Please email Chamofix for booking forms and final details. You don’t have to have a massage qualification to participate… you just need an open mind and a keenness to learn!

18 hours: Learning Thai Massage, level 1 basic, with Dani from Yoga Groove

Cost: 220e per person

* Dani’s “Learning Thai Massage” is an introduction to this ancient art form. Thai Massage has existed for over 2500 years. We will explore the basic techniques.
* After the weekend (18hours of study) it will be possible to offer a complete one hour massage
* In this class we will work with the thai meridians of the legs, the arms and the back
* We will discover stretching techniques inspired by yoga and learn the basic massage of the stomach, feet and hands. We will continue the massage until the head.
* The massage is done on the back and the stomach.
* The massage is given to fully clothed clients.
* There is opportunity for walking and yoga before each day’s session
* Maximum of 6 students on the course

Dates and times:
Friday 11th June: 1830 – 2200h
Saturday 12th June: 0900-1230h and 1400-1900h
Sunday 13th June: 1000-1600h

What to bring:
* Yoga mat
* A packed lunch… Or a contribution to a picnic lunch that we all share
* Two pillows / cushions
* “An open mind and the desire to learn”

What is provided:
* 18hrs tuition in the Chamonix venue
* Herbal teas and light refreshments

The venue:
* INSTED language school in Chamonix
* INSTED language school location is just 3mins’ walk from Chamonix train station


Chamonix CORE Education @ Le Vert


Le Vert Bar and ChamoFix Massage are delighted to organise a series of Chamonix Sports lectures through the summer… but not simply showcases of all the amazing adventure sports and endurance feat that take place in the Chamonix Valley. In fact we’re inviting some of Europe’s best sports science practitioners to take us “back to basics” – focussing on the latest science of physiology that each of us can apply to ourselves.

The first lecture is from the world famous Mel Cash, author of Pocket Atlas of the Moving Body & Sport & Remedial Massage Therapy among others and co-founder of the London School of Sports Massage.

Here’s the details:


3 interactive lectures this summer
To set you up with the musculature & core stability
To get the best from your body & your sports

1st Lecture: Monday 3rd May 2010 – 7.30pm – 10pm

Mel Cash, world renowned Sports Massage Author & Practitioner, & Lecturer in Anatomy & Physiology, will discuss “Posture & Core Stability  – What is it & why is it important?


Ticket & a drink: 10e
Vert dinner deal: Two-course dinner & juice/demi/wine + ticket = 20e in advance*/ 25e on door

*Buy dinner tickets in advance at MoJo’s & Le Vert Bar or contact Ruth Martin on 0609.86.88.38 / revive@chamofix.com


A marathon runner and triathlete in the mid 1980s Mel found the use of regular self massage to hugely aid his training…. and became inspired to develop a true understanding of the use of massage to support sports performance. No courses or books existed about the role of massage in sports and “Sports Massage” was still an undeveloped concept.  Mel Cash qualified in Remedial Massage Therapy, through the Northern Institute of Massage, in 1985 and began his “learning adventure” which continues to this day. He studied and experienced a vast and continuous variety of sport, training and therapy situations and even gate-crashed lectures at University College Hospital.

Use your Core! Chamonix Extreme Sports image by Gus Hurst

Use your Core! Chamonix Extreme Sports image by Gus Hurst

In 1988 he met Finnish Dr Jari Ylinen and they co-wrote Sports Massage, the first ever book on the subject and one that remains a leading reference bible for sports massage therapists today. It’s sold worldwide, in several foreign languages.

Mel Cash and like minded massage therapists subsequently formed the London School of Sports Massage in 1989. As its principal tutor Mel has developed the sports massage BTEC course offerings to make LSSM the UK’s leading school in sports and remedial massage.

In 1996 Mel Cash produced his second book Sport & Remedial Massage Therapy and straight away it became the world’s leading textbook in sports massage. 1999 brought us Mel Cash’s Pocket Atlas of the Moving Body and it’s also possible to purchase his fantastic Anatomy Biocharts from the LSSM.

Mel Cash has vast clinical experience with an A-list client base that has included  heavy weight boxer Frank Bruno and  ballerina Sylvie Guillem. As well as running courses at the London School of Sports Massage, Mel Cash has a private practice in North West London where he treats all levels of athletes plus non athletes with physical disabilities and postural/occupational stress.

He writes articles and gives guest lectures and workshops on a wide variety of sport and massage related subjects and is a part-time lecturer in anatomy & physiology as well as Sports massage at the University of Westminster. Mel sees teaching as a “performance” and likes to make it as entertaining for the students as possible.

Mel’s outside interests include running (still) and adventure travel. His favourite place to visit is the Himalayas where he has trekked and climbed many times.