Prehab for Freestyle Snowboarding

Highlights:

  • Oblique and other core-strengthening exercises
  • Body conditioning tips for snowboarders

With the addition of Big Air and Slopestyle snowboarding to the past two Winter Olympics, there has been an increased mainstream interest and progression in freestyle snowboarding worldwide. However, these forms of snowboarding also carry great physical risk due to the height, velocity and torsional/rotational elements of this type of sport.

It is important to note the physical challenges and differences faced by athletes, “park rats”, or weekend warriors, as identifying these key differences can aid in specificity of training and prehab. The physical demands of Freestyle snowboarding events are incredibly different to those of Slalom or Boarder Cross, as there is an increased reliance on the core muscles and proprioception (body awareness).

In freestyle snowboarding two of the key muscle groups in jump, spin, rail initiation and control are the internal and external obliques. These two sets of muscles help in side bending, initiating, turning, and slowing rotation of the body.

Two exercises to help strengthen the obliques:

Rotation With a Band

Wood Choppers With a Medicine Ball

Now that the body is turning due to the obliques, it is just as important to learn where the body is in space without being able to solely rely on vision. Jumps, spins and rails occur so quickly, that relying only on vision to help spot a landing is not adequate.

An exercise I like is the clock drill. This is an advanced exercise. Simply balance on one leg and tandem stance (one foot in front of the other). This should be perfected before trying at home. This is a jumping exercise which means the same rules apply that are important for squatting or landing, which are:

  • your knees should not go past your toes or inwards (ideally middle of knee cap over second toe)
  • you should stay in a neutral back position
  • you should absorb the impact of the jump by landing softy (hips, knees and ankles bending)

As always, be sure to consult a healthcare professional before engaging in any new strenuous exercise programs, and use your resources! A physiotherapist is a great support to provide you with the guidelines to produce a higher quality of movement safely, and to help maximize your results. 

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