Working as a professional splitboard guide and snowboard instructor has wreaked havoc on my body. As guides, we often refer to the constant ache in the lumbar region as “Guide Back.”
Unfortunately, I have witnessed a number of my mentors and fellow guides suffer the effects lower back injuries. I myself am plagued with injuries to the to the lower spine and have found regular strength training and stretching the only option to help me stay strong and continue to pursue the profession I love so much.
Simply put, snowboarding is my favorite thing to do. It defines who I am and the feeling I get while riding powder is unmatched. I have lived by the creed I was introduced to years ago in Vermont of “If It’s Snowing, I’m Going!” Yes work, life and other obligations have gotten in the way, but I continually scheme any way possible to get mine when it starts dumping snow.
Years of abuse to my body from carrying massive backpacks, working and playing in the mountains, competing in mogul and boardercross competitions, high speed compression while snowboarding, and hard manual labor has taken it’s toll.
I was introduced to sport specific training while competing in local boardercross events 20 years ago. I figured if I was going to ride with reckless abandonment against other competitors, I best be fit. With that, I adopted a plan from the US Snowboarding team.
After moving to Jackson, I did my best to continue to train for the winter, but eventually slacked off. It was way more fun to go mountain biking and surfing during the fall then going to the gym. Plus, I figured that was training in itself. During the winter season, I did not award time to go to the gym after riding or working all day. Après Ski, going to the old climbing gym, or just chilling took precedent.
Too many years of abuse has led to the dreadful “Guide Back.” I have realized the only way I will be able to continually pursue the sport and profession I love so much is by adopting a strict regiment of sports specific training. With knowledgeable, certified strength coaches available, like the ones I work with at Wright Training, keeping myself strong and my back “safe” is the only way to prolong my snowboarding career. Specific coaching has helped me to correct the strength imbalances in my body. I have also learned to how to more effectively engage muscles within my core, butt, and legs to help protect my back and move more efficiently through the mountains.
I realize that I will continue to have flair ups of the “Guide Back.” I also know that with regular strength training, the days spent lying on the floor in pain will be shorter and less frequent and I’ll be able to ride that powder that I love so much.