Recovery Strategies for Snow Sport Athletes: Both Uphill and Downhill

Editor's note: Whether you are waiting for the snow to fall and training hard to get in shape for splitboarding, or you are in season and feeling fatigued from long days of snowboarding, proper recovery is essential. Pallas team rider, personal trainer and Physician Assistant Erin Storck has some great tips for incorporating recovery into your snowboard conditioning plan.

Why Recovery is as Important as Training

By Erin Storck

You get home from a ripping pow day of snowboarding at the resort or doing laps splitboarding in your favorite backcountry zone and just want to plop on the couch and retire for the rest of the night. Knowing the snow is still going to be good tomorrow, you are hoping to feel strong the next morning, but leave that up to fate. Good news is, there is a little more to it than fate, and there are many different strategies you can take to be proactive both in the moment and in your overall lifestyle. We may not have biohacking totally dialed yet, but there are many helpful strategies that will aid in improved recovery for snowboarding. So why are we talking about recovery and not training (click here for training blog)? Well, one could argue, without recovery, what is the point of training. First, let’s think about exercise as a stressor. Say you have a big test or work project coming up and you have been grinding for a few days to get the work done. Afterwards, you will probably take some time to decompress from this with something other than work or school. Same thing goes with exercise. Exercise also sets off your alarm system when you can exercise with physiological, neuromuscular, or metabolic changes. Over time with chronic stress, you will start to experience training adaptations; you can hike further, ride longer, or become stronger. BUT without recovery this will all blow up eventually. So, how do you get stronger or faster at splitboarding? First apply a training stimulus which provokes fatigue and will induce all sorts of physiological processes, then recover. So, how do you know when and how much to recover? This can be tricky, and in large is listening to your body. You will recover faster from endurance training than strength training. The more intense the session, the longer the recovery. Now I am sure you are wondering, what are these wonderful recovery strategies for snowboarding and splitboarding…


Pallas splitboards


Components of Recovery (and Overall Health)

1. Sleep

Let’s start with sleep. The most simple but underutilized recovery method. According to the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker also give this a read if you haven’t) Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day.”1 He even goes on to say that “the physical and mental impairments caused by one night of bad sleep dwarf those caused by an equivalent absence of food or exercise.” Sleep is arguably the most important aspect of recovery, yet most of us aren’t getting enough to squeeze more into the day. So, when thinking about where to cut corners in your life, don’t make it with your sleep. In fact, shift the focus to making this your priority and creating a bed-time schedule and routine that allows for optimal sleep for your body (ideally at least 8 hours). Walker goes on to address sports performance and sleep stating that “post-performance sleep accelerated physical recovery from common inflammation, stimulates muscle repair, and helps restock cellular energy in the form of glucose and glycogen.”

2. Nutrition and Hydration

Next up, maybe the most fun item on the recovery list! Snacks! But seriously, food as an athlete is a golden ticket to success. This includes both during (especially in endurance sports like backcountry snowboarding and skiing) and after. The current studies are recommending 60-90g of carbs per hour, most of the research being done in cycling thus far. Fueling appropriately during exercise not only improves performance during but is also shown to improve recovery. Additionally, don’t shrug off your post- shred session fuel either. Sure, a beer and french fries sound great after a long day in the mountains, and this isn’t always bad but try to not make this your routine. Think about getting in a balanced meal after snowboarding all day. Timing of post-exercise fuel can be person dependent. Research has shown that females have a much shorter window to get in the recovery fuel than male counterparts. This can be a pre-made snack or a recovery drink to keep it simple.

Erin Storck - Gnarly Nutrition for snowboard recovery

Photo: Tim Behuniak

Pork tacos with avocado - recovery fuel for snowboarding

Photo: Erin Storck


3. Rest Days and Active Recovery

Alright, for some of you rest days are the easiest days and for others it takes a lot of self-discipline to not go out and train or play hard. But either way, the importance in un-paralleled. A good rule of thumb is one rest day per week, and for some athletes up to every 10 days. As mentioned in the intro, this gives your body proper time to rebuild after the constant break down. Rest days can also include active recovery. Active recovery is low intensity exercise used to improve homeostasis in the body and reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. The idea is that light movement can increase blood flow throughout the body and removing cellular waste, aiding in the healing process. Here are a few active recovery techniques. A gentle walk with the dog, hike on an easy trail, light swim or bike ride and yoga are great options for active recovery.

4. Myofascial release/massage

Both modalities have been shown to improve recovery in ways mentioned above. If you have access to a full body massage, it is probably closer to a gold standard. Foam rolling, trigger point, and percussion massage gun are more affordable everyday options.

Female splitboarders on a skin track

Photo: Erin Storck

5. Stress management and meditation

Stress is stress. Whether it is physical stress on your body or mental and emotional, it all has its impact on your physiology. The often un-talked about reality of managing stressors can have a major impact on recovery and reducing injury. Meditation is a great tool for this and there are many apps our there these days to help guide you and keep you accountable.

6. Cold therapy

Immersion cold water therapy (ie. ice baths) has been certainly trending recently. In study in Frontiers of Physiology led by Olivier Dupuy, they found a positive effect of cold-water immersion or contrast baths (ie. ice bath then hot tub) on DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness.) In addition, cold water therapy also showed a decrease in post exercise fatigue. Inflammation was also found to be decreased with cold water therapy. Like all the modalities, each person may have a different experience with this but could be worth a shot (or maybe just go roll around in the snow).

7. Pneumatic Compression or compression boots

The idea behind these is to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation like many of the other modalities mentioned above. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research yet behind this. That being said some athletes swear behind them, so I will leave that up to you!


Snowboarder making a powder turn

Photo: Dillon Vesper


In conclusion, the big take away is to take care of yourself in order to have the most fun in the snow. Eat well, hydrate, sleep enough, get some rest, and test out some different techniques for faster recovery.

If you have any questions or for customized training plans, feel free to email me at




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