Cross-country Skiing.
It Works, for Both Body & Mind

18.1.2017

“Have you tried whether cross-country skiing could relieve your back pain?”

“No, I haven’t. I used to ski a lot but after having children I just haven’t found the time or energy for it. Maybe I could try it when the snow falls.”

One year ago, I suffered from lower back and sciatica pain which tormented me the whole autumn. Several years of sitting in the office combined with the hurries and worries inevitably related to juggling the family and work life had done their trick. My back was a wreck. As the constant pain started taking its toll also on my mood, I decided that it was time to take the situation seriously – for real.

After my physiotherapist recommended skiing, I did what many of us do in this kind of a situation: I got a second opinion from Mr. Google. I bumped into an article titled “Cross-country Skiing vs Nordic WalkingI learned that “as a low-impact activity, it [skiing] can help to strengthen muscles and joints without overloading them. However, Scandinavian research reports a high rate of lower back pain among cross-country skiers”. 

I was confused but I decided to give skiing a chance. After all, I was ready to try all the means available to get rid of the pain.

One day when there was just a good amount of snow and the temperature was right I headed to the forest with my skis. Half an hour later, as I stood on our porch with my rosy cheeks, I smiled to myself. The pain was gone.

I had found my old favorite winter activity again. Sure, it was me who taught our children to ski but now I had re-discovered the joy of skiing myself. I was again genuinely excited about this traditional Finnish winter fun.

cross-country skiing in saimaa lake area forest

As I continued with my skiing exercises that winter, I noticed that there are certain conditions that can promote back pain relief when you go skiing. Three most important things when you are trying to cure back and sciatica pain by cross-country skiing:

  1. Good grip in your skis
  2. Skiing on relatively flat terrain
  3. Peaceful and relaxed movement

In their cross-country skiing article, Visit Finland writes about “Skiing with Feeling”. That is actually a great rule of thumb when you head to the skiing track to get the best benefit for both your body and mind. Ski with feeling. It doesn’t matter if your style is classic, like mine here, or free-style, like here – both are great. Enjoying the movement in a natural setting can be a meditative experience at best. Skiing is also a great way to get some fresh air and color to your cheeks.

Cross-country skiing in Saimaa, Finland

With that attitude, I went skiing today and I felt neither pain in my back nor stress in my mind. Warmly recommended!

Finland is full of cross country skiing tracks from Helsinki to Lapland. If you are interested in getting more information about cross-country skiing possibilities around Lake Saimaa, Visit Saimaa is a good place to start. And if you want take a sneak peek on where I will ski next week, check this out!

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