Drain the Pain: 5 Alternative Therapies for Skiers and Snowboarders

If you are an avid skier or snowboarder, odds are you’ve experienced some sort of debilitating injury on the snow.  Unfortunately, for most action sports athletes it’s not a matter of if, but when, you will find yourself tearing up your knee, hip or shoulder.  It just comes with the nature of sliding on snow at over 50mph, airing over cat tracks and dodging clueless Jerrys on the daily. While most serious injuries will require surgery, there are some alternative therapies that athletes use to assist with recovery, help fight chronic pain or relieve muscle soreness from repetitive activity.  While professional athletes have been using these techniques for quite some time, they are becoming increasingly popular and more affordable for the general public. Whether you are looking for an alternative to surgery or trying to fight the daily wear and tear of the mountains, you should look into these up and coming therapies.


Cupping is a form of alternative therapy that dates back to the ancient Chinese and Egyptian cultures.  In order to relieve stagnant blood and poor energy flow, therapists will place heated cups on your skin which creates a suction effect.  This suction works to draw blood to affected areas which causes your skin to rise and blood vessels to expand. People use this technique to increase blood flow, reduce pain and fight inflammation which ultimately promotes healing.  Cupping has been made popular by the Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, who swears by it’s therapeutic effects.


Localized cryotherapy (i.e cold packs, ice packs) has been used for decades to reduce inflammation and pain.  While whole body cryotherapy is fairly new to the game but is becoming increasingly popular among athletes. This is the process of hyper-cooling a person’s skin temperature to about 30 degrees Farenheit for up to three minutes by enveloping the body with extremely cold air at temperatures ranging from -100 F to -270 F.  This hyper-cooling causes vasoconstriction, which moves blood from your limbs to the core of your body to protect vital organs. In this process, toxins are flushed from peripheral tissues and blood is then enriched with oxygen, enzymes, and nutrients. This enriched blood that is pumped out when your body warms up is great for muscle repair, chronic pain and inflammation.  Cryotherapy also boosts the immune system and your circulation. Furthermore, the cooling process causes your endocrine system to pump out endorphins and noradrenaline hormones into your blood stream which can work as an energizer and mood booster.


Electric stimulation therapy is a therapeutic treatment that uses electrodes placed on patients skin to treat muscle spasms and pain.  E-stim works to passively contract muscles which can help to prevent atrophy and build strength to injured areas. This therapeutic method is used widely in physical therapy offices and even at home.  The electrodes deliver impulses that work to mimic the way our body naturally exercises its muscles. It is often used to increase circulation, reduce pain and gain range of motion.


Dry needling and acupuncture are similar in that both procedures focus on generating circulation to the necessary parts of the body using thin non-medicated needles.  Acupuncture is a holistic treatment designed to relieve pain and discomfort by opening up a person’s energy flow. While dry needling is designed to stimulate trigger points in your muscles or tissue that are hard or knotted.  The needle helps to release the knot and works to relieve any muscle pain or spasms. The needles typically remain in your skin for a  between 10 and 30 minutes. This process has been gaining more popularity as more high profile athletes rely on it to feel and perform their best.


Hemp is no longer a 4 letter word.  With federal legalization of CBD oil we are now able to purchase and use this amazing product without fear.  This is a cannabinoid oil that is non-psychedelic and highly medicinal. The extent of the uses for this are too many to list.  From help treating cancer, lupus or anxiety all the way down to easing the pain of a pulled muscle. This oil relieves pain and drastically reduces inflammation.  It can be taken orally or used as a topical solution. Both of these method have had amazing results and researchers continue to find new and amazing uses for this once taboo plant.  

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