[FREERIDE] The importance of staying fit

STORY BY
Leon Butler

The golden days of snowboarding embodied a hedonistic lifestyle of riding with your buddies, partying and having no care in the world……..it sounded incredible and free,  this way of living was rebellious and archaic.

Modern day snowboarding is far removed from this and I often hear people say that the soul of snowboarding has been lost as it has become more corporate.  My opinion is that this is not true.

The rebellious side of snowboarding isn’t the same, but its soul is very much alive and I think in some ways more then ever.

Technology is advancing to give us new ways to get creative and people now are using snowboards to explore the mountains through split-boarding, which in my view, is the heart of snowboarding. To be out in the mountains, exploring, is what its all about

These two points I have just raised brings me onto my topic for this article, the importance of staying fit.

Technology is advancing in board design and also park design, the result of this is people are now going bigger then ever before and trying harder and more dangerous tricks which can be unforgiving on the body.   As a result its becoming more important to stay fit and healthy (in between the partying) especially with professional athletes who cant afford to be injured for long periods of time with the pressures of competition and from sponsors.

A good advocate for this is Travis Rice who at 35 is still going bigger then most riders a lot younger then himself.   He puts it down to changing his lifestyle when he was in his 20’s. He wanted to stay snowboarding for as long as he could and new the only thing that would prevent him was his body.

So he made small changes such as having a pre season exercise regime, a healthier diet and stretching his muscles…always stretching!  He even learnt the best way to take a fall as he found out that a static fall causes the most injuries.

These tiny changes have meant he has suffered very little in terms of injury, which considering what he does and the 20 years he’s being doing it, is incredible.

I have recently suffered what I thought was a simple ankle sprain and would just need the classic ‘rest and ice’ treatment only to have spent the past 6 months unable to snowboard and still having serious problems.  Which is why, at 30 years old, I have realised why it is so important to look after yourself and is now something I am taking seriously. I have also realised how beneficial it is to see a physiotherapist and to seek out more obscure treatments, Chinese accupuncture being the new favourite of mine.

Snowboarding and skiing puts so much pressure on muscles, tendons and ligaments that they do get damaged and seeing a health professional can give you back range of movement them you may not have had before.

I think that most of the industry is now going along the more professional route but the rebel soul of the sport is still there and while it might not be like it was ‘back in the day’  its surely a good thing as it shows progression.

 

The rise in split-boarding and ski touring has created these super fit and equally crazy riders and skiers who want to go and find the sketchiest lines but in order to seek out this type of terrain, a high level of fitness is needed.  The same goes for competitive freeriding, sending it off a 35 foot cliff takes some strong legs in order to stick the landings and make it to the next feature. A safety aspect comes into play too, if you have just boot-packed a 600m, 40 degree couloir, then you are going to need all your strength and energy to get back down safely and to enjoy it.

And I think thats a good point, by staying fit and healthy it allows us to enjoy the sport we love but to also stay safe.

So while the industry keeps progressing and boundaries are being pushed, put the donut down and get in the gym……you wont regret it.

Thanks to Jake at RMA and Fitness at Gurnard for the support and help.

 

You can also follow Leon Butler on social media:

Instagram – Leon.butler87

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