Water sports are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and add some variety to your fitness routine. Water skiing, in particular, challenges your strength, endurance and flexibility. Other activities, like jet skiing and tubing, are just plain fun. Follow these tips to stay safe and get the most out of your day on the water:
- If you’re a beginner, take a lesson or go with an experienced friend who can help you. Having a buddy is always a good idea for safety. If you are water skiing, make sure you have a spotter in addition to the driver to keep an eye on the person water skiing!
- Perform an equipment check before starting to make sure all is safe and in good condition. Also, always wear a lifejacket!
- Be aware of water/weather conditions and the time of day. Mornings may be better because the water is usually calmer and there is less wind. As the day goes on, the water may become choppier with increased wind and more boats on the water. As sundown approaches, conditions become more dangerous and decreased visibility becomes a risk.
- Be physically prepared. A strong core, legs, and arms are especially important in water skiing so that you can get up in the water and stay up safely. However, shoulder and arm strength cannot be overlooked. Lower extremity and head injuries are common, but given the nature of the sport, all parts of your body are susceptible.
- Dynamic water activities require good response time and balance, so incorporate workouts that challenge your balance and strengthen the stabilizing muscles throughout your body.
- Warm up and stretch. Warming up with some dynamic stretches before you start can help get your muscles ready for action! Static stretching after you’re finished is important to maintain flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
- Watch your form. Maintain an “athletic” stance when water skiing. Knees should be bent to engage your quads and glutes, and decrease the risk of injury. Neutral posturing of the spine (not over-arching or bending forward) is important to protect yourself from back injury.
- Stay hydrated on hot days by drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol), and be sure to protect yourself from the sun with a waterproof sunblock.
- Know your limits, and when you are fatigued, call it a day!
Sarah McLean, HSS physical therapist, is certified by the Aquatic Therapy & Rehab Institute, Inc., and offers aquatic therapy services at the James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center and Tisch Sports Performance Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.