I beat myself up skiing. You know, in a good way: like when every muscle aches, but I’m wearing an ear-to-ear grin. After many decades of abuse fun, I don’t bounce back the next day or weekend like I used to. So I hit the gym, stretch most mornings, and try to get a massage as often as I can. Sound like you, too? Welcome to the club.
I don’t know why it hadn’t dawned on me until this season, but I’ve been doing the massage/spa treatment game all wrong. I was lucky enough to sample the Refresh package as Solitude Mountain Spa, and I realized: the Spa treats skiers and snowboarders all the time. Plus, the therapists ski and board, too. They know exactly what I need done as a skier and why, plus how to do it so I can get back out on the hill and ski hard again tomorrow. I’ve been walking by expert chefs to eat gas station sushi for too long.
Go For The Full Treatment
One of the other rookie moves I’ve been making is booking a massage, showing up ten minutes before the appointment, and I’m out the door in an hour. That certainly works, but there’s so much more. Thankfully, Tricia at Solitude Mountain Spa recommended I loosen up in the sauna first. What an awesome idea: arrive early and relax before getting a treatment. Never going in cold again!
Another part of my day at the spa was a full body scrub. This is a research mission, so I NEEDED to try all the things, right? Using salt (I forgot to ask if it was from the Great Salt Lake, but I like to think it was, so I am going to assume that is the case) the therapist gently massaged my skin, exfoliating along the way. Living in Utah — or even visiting for a week — means dry skin. Lots of it. The salt scrub left my skin feeling and looking new again from head to toe. I even think the 60-minute massage that followed worked better since my skin surface was better prepped and primed.
Massages By Skiers, For Skiers
The usual question is male or female therapist? But has anyone ever ask you if you want a skier as your therapist? Didn’t think so. At Solitude Mountain Spa, they don't have to ask — the whole staff is there to work and ski. Skiers use weird groups of muscles. Think of how difficult it is to get in shape for ski season by doing any other exercise besides skiing. The fact of the matter is that skiing engages muscle groups that otherwise go unused or underused.
Transverse abdominals, hip flexors, multifidus, and obliques are all put to work in making a ski turn. I couldn’t tell you where any of those are actually located, but having therapists who can target the right muscle groups is as key to good skiing as an experienced tuner or boot fitter. Expertly stretching my arms and legs to relieve tension in sore joints, as well as applying pressure on tiny core muscles to get them to release was unlike any massage I’ve had before. They knew right where to focus their attention, including muscles I didn't even know were sore and tight — or in one case, even existed.
The Foot Focus
Let's rank the best feelings in skiing:
1. A powder turn that lets you float down a mountainside.
2. A carved turn, feeling the energy transfer from snow to your ski.
3. Taking your boots off the at the end of the day.
Note how the best aspects of skiing are experiences beginning with your feet. That’s why the foot focus is arguably my favorite aspect of this treatment. The magic lies in hot wraps, essential oils, and a pressure-relieving rub that flexes out sore joints and tendons. I would do this every day if I could.
When To Spa?
There are several schools of thought here. If you are skiing for four or more days, the sweet spot is probably after day three so you can finish your trip strong.
On the other hand, if you had a long flight, a massage treatment will restore flexibility and remove tension from your muscles so you can kick your trip off right. Heading in for a treatment the day you arrive might benefit you in the long run.
For those who are skiing hard beginning mere moments after touchdown until two hours before takeoff, try to add an extra hour to treat those muscles to some TLC before flying home. Of course, scheduling several treatments in during your trip might be just as good an idea as choosing Solitude.