Cross-country skiing is this and much more, it is a complete sport within everyone's reach: there are at least 10 good reasons to start practicing this sport.
Why choose cross-country skiing?
It's good for health.Cross-country skiing is a powerful cardio activity, of those that are good for the heart, oxygenate the blood and ensure the maintenance of cardiovascular health.
Professor Wolfgang Schoberberger, director of the Innsbruck Institute for Sport and Tourism for Alpine Health and Medicine, explains:
As far as physical benefits are concerned, I would divide the speech into two: musculoskeletal and cardio-vascular. In the first case, unlike similar sports such as running, more muscle groups are activated: especially the scapular cord, back muscles, neck, pelvic muscles and legs. As far as the cardio-vascular system is concerned, regular and long-lasting practice improves strength and endurance. Moreover, the preparatory aspect of coordination of movements should not be forgotten.
It’s a great calorie burner Cross-country skiing is the most "aerobic" discipline among outdoor sports. A statement confirmed by several physiologists and technical trainers, because the coordinated use of arms and legs makes Nordic skiing a sport with a very high calorie consumption.
There is no comparable sport in terms of energy consumption and calories. It is true that the calculation of calories depends on many factors such as weight, age, basal metabolism and more, but 1 hour of cross-country skiing can easily burn more than 1000 calories.
It Is an excellent anti-stress activity. Another quote from Professor Schoberberger:
First of all, moving in the cold, in the middle of snow-covered nature is good for our brain. This factor is rarely taken into account, but it is crucial. Cross-country skiing in a white lawn or in the woods frees our mind from everyday stress and helps us to find the solution to our problems.
Being in nature is therapeutic in the true sense of the word. Think about practice of Shinrin-yoku, the traditional and widespread ‘forest bathing' of the Japanese: it has been shown that those who devote themselves to this practice report lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), a reduction in heartbeats and a decrease in blood pressure.
It's safer.Compared to alpine skiing and snowboarding, the risk of trauma is considerably lower. Obviously also in this sport there is the possibility of incurring some injuries, especially with regard to tendons and ankles, the parts of the body mainly at risk. As always, we recommend good athletic training and a short warm-up before starting: these measures avoid the risk of injury.
It's a complete sport. Cross-country skiing involves all the most important muscular districts, making both the upper and lower parts of the body work.
Cross-country skiing is an excellent form of cross-training, i. e. the kind of activities to be practiced in a season, in this case in winter, to get prepared for other activities in other seasons, such as cycling in spring, or even running.
We can choose between two different techniques the one that suits our case: the skating or the alternating (or classic) pitch.<br>
It's social. The beauty of this sport is that it can also be practiced in company. The nature of the trails, the slower nature of this discipline compared to alpine skiing allow you to share the experience with other people.There are also cross-country ski rings open to our four-legged animal friends.
Regardless of style, we can practice it independently from the very first outings because learning cross-country skiing is much simpler than Alpine skiing. Once you have acquired the basics of technology, there is no need to be a professional to have fun. To improve more quickly, we recommend you take one or two lessons with a teacher.
It is a "comfortable" sport.Let us forget the torment caused by heavy ski boots or helmet. Few sports activities can boast equipment that is even less expensive than cross-country skiing.
Breathable clothing, shoes, skis and poles: the game is done.
It is economic. Cross-country skiing is much cheaper than downhill skiing, and the daily price is well below that of downhill skiing: between 8 and 12 euros per day for adults. Without the cost of the ski pass, the cost drops considerably. The same applies to equipment, whether it is rented or purchased.
How to start cross-country skiing
We often make the mistake of thinking that competitive products are the best: on the contrary, they are the least suitable to get started. In approaching cross-country skiing, therefore, we must discard the equipment of the Racing and Performance categories, and choose skis within the Sport typology: they are wider and more stable, ideal for beginners.
The characteristics of cross-country skis vary according to the technique: for the classic one we will have skis slightly longer than those used for skating. In general, there are no standard reference measurements: each company produces skis of different lengths that must be chosen according to the weight of the athlete. This is what determines the lowering of the bridge (the arc that forms between the ground and the ski at the height of the linkage) and leads to a change in the hardness of the ski.
For what concerns sticks, their size is calculated by multiplying their height by 0.84 in the classical technique and 0.88 in the free technique. As a guideline they should come under the chin in classical technique, and at the tip of the nose in skating.
There are two bottom shoe models: classic and skating. The former are light, flexible at the tip and low at the height of the malleolus, while the latter are more like boots with stiff soles and support on the entire ankle. Here too, it is good to opt for models of smaller categories, which are undoubtedly more comfortable and suitable for beginners.
As far as clothing is concerned, the most commonly used material currently is Windstopper, which blocks the wind but, at the same time, allows the skin to breathe. Another recommended type of fabric is a thermal tissue that keeps the body warm and dry while allowing the skin to breathe.
The hands should always be protected with gloves, which must be those specifically designed for cross-country skiing, with the lower part reinforced so as to be able to hold the stick well.
To protect the legs it is great to use technical fuseaux, which are very comfortable, light, and leave a great freedom of movement. If they cost too much, you can use the cheapest alternative by using racing fuseaux below which you can wear with tights.
How to train for cross-country skiing
We have said that the basic technique is acquired rather quickly, already with a couple of lessons. Physical preparation, however, should not be neglected even if we are not professional athletes, indeed a fortiori.
Below are some suggestions to prepare for this sport.
The cross trainer is probably the cardiovascular tool that most mimics cross-country skiing movements. Using a cross trainer, we will then learn how to move around as this sport requires and, at the same time, we will do an excellent cardio training that will improve our lung capacity and endurance.
HIIT (High intensity interval training) on the cross-trainer is the solution for maximizing results. Use the cross trainer as fast as possible for two minutes with a high resistance, then pause for two minutes. Repeat this sequence ten times.
Cardiovascular endurance is a fundamental requirement for cross-country skiing, at least if you want to cover certain distances. You can train this type of endurance on a treadmill running for long periods of time at a low heart rate.
Training the core is very important in all sports. Having a trained core means preventing injuries and more resistance. It is particularly important for cross-country skiing. The abdominal and lumbar belt, in fact, must be suitably reinforced to provide power to the peripheral sectors such as legs and arms, which are fundamental in the thrust on skis.
The core also intervenes in the development of balance and coordination.To develop these characteristics we can use Wellness Ball: with this the back performs a series of micromovements, improving the action that abdominal and lumbar muscles play to stabilize the spine.