Prep For Skiing And The Snowy Slopes! – Lina Englund, Physiotherapist
When preparing your body for winter mountain sports it is important to aim for a balanced body with stability, flexibility, strength and endurance. The biggest mistake people do is to throw themselves out for a full day, or week, of action after a fairly inactive period during the dark winter months. A great gift to yourself is to stay active throughout the seasons.
Important areas to strengthen:
– The Glutes. Your glutes are one of the most essential muscle groups used in skiing.
– Knee Flexors and Extensors. They help to absorb the ground-impact forces of alpine skiing.
– Feet, Ankles, Lower Leg. The feet, ankle and lower leg muscle groups are crucial to get the skis turning. They are used for edging, pressure and rotational movements.
As mentioned, your balance is essential to skiing and snowboarding. The muscles to help you maintain balance are your core muscles, which include your transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, diaphragm, multifidus, iliopsoas and internal and external obliques. All of which you train during a pilates session. These muscle groups work as a unit to stabilize your pelvis and spine while maintaining an upright posture. With a strong core you stabilize your upper body and avoid frequent falls and flapping arm movements. Less frequent falls equals decreased risk of injury. With a stable body you will also have greater protection for overuse injuries.
With age, and don not think you are safe because you are “only in your 30’s”, the body begins to loose its sense of balance. Skiing and snowboarding requires quite a bit of balance and it is important to incorporate balance training in your exercise routine. It is easily done by executing some of your exercises on an unstable surface, or by standing on one leg as often and for as long as you can. This also works the stabilizing muscles in your ankles, knees and hips. Place a balance board or bosu ball under your feet while doing squats or lunges, stand on one leg while brushing your teeth or doing dishes (on a balance ball!). Challenge: turn your head or close your eyes.
Bonus: Steady balance is great when the streets are covered with ice and snow.
When you take part in winter mountain sports it often means staying out and moving for a long period of time, which emphasizes the need for endurance. One of the most common causes of injuries in skiing is fatigue, so to avoid accidents caused by exhaustion you should train your endurance at least three times per week for about 30-60 min at the time depending on intensity. If you have the time and fitness level to work out for longer it would be even better. Remember that a day on the hill often ends up being an all day adventure. Examples: running, power walking, cycling, rope-skipping, cardio machines at the gym.
Use good equipment. Wearing a helmet and having good bindings that are set up for your weight and boots are among the most important safety checks in skiing.
Remember to hydrate! Dehydration leads to decreased blood flow to your muscles and increased risk of injury. Long days in the cold call more for warm coffee or hot chocolate, but neither are great for hydrating. When you spend a full day moving you want to make sure that you have access to water, or any other non-dehydrating liquid.
Remember To Warm Up
A good warm up results in increased range of motion, decreased muscle stiffness, decreased risk of injury and improved performance. It also leads to psychological preparation and a hormonal response that prepares us for physical activity. Examples of exercises that prepare your lower and upper body for rigorous snow sports are squats, lunges and push-ups
Take home message: Strengthen, stabilize, increase your endurance, warm up and hydrate!
Written by Lina Englund